SOC209H5 Lecture Notes - Community Service, Suspended Sentence, Judicial Discretion

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25 Nov 2011
Sentencing and Incarceration
How do judges decide on a sentence?
1. Judicial discretion
2. Judges have certain parameters
-direction given in the law
-rules and principles on choice of disposition
-minimum or mandatory punishment
-offenders characteristics
-mitigating circumstances are taken into account when making decisions
-aggravating circumstances
3. the personal characteristics of the judge
-makes a big difference, lawyer prefer certain judges
The Sentencing Process
When sentencing a convicted offender the judge relies on:
1. Pre-sentence report
-once judge is guilty this is written
-contains info on offender: all previous offenses, education, employment, family
relations, leisure activity, financial records
-go out to community and interview people who know offender
2. a joint submission by the Crown prosecutor and defense lawyer recommending a
sentence, usually the result of a plea bargain
-between 95 and 98% of the time will impose a plea bargain
-very important process
3. seriousness of the offense
4. Mitigating and aggravating factors involved in the offense
-does the offender have children? is it a drug problem? hate motivated crime? history of
violence all are taken into consideration
1. May ised a lone or in combination with other sanctions
Rarely used in combination with a prison sentence
-83% are vehicle fine?
Are fines fair?
1. used with low risk offenders
2. problem is that 1 in 5 jail issues are because they can’t pay he fine
3. affects minority groups most
4.ability to pay may be included in pre sentence report
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-sometimes if custody is being considered
1. absolute and conditional discharge
-on probation, if you ,meet conditions than you get a discharge, if you don’t meet them
than you get a harsher penalty back in court
2. suspended sentence
-could be because of probation
Conditions of Probation
-most frequently imposed sentence
-max duration for just probation is three years
-could be long term supervision probation
-based on the idea that offenders are not actually dangerous to society, using provincial
probation service
-impose about 40-50 conditions, hard not to break
-e.g.. drug conviction, out on probation, forgot time of date changed for probation
meeting/treatment, he was arrested for not showing up
-while on probation, offender abides on a whole set of conditions, some are mandatory
1. no firearms
2. stay in jurisdiction
3. report to probation officer
4. report address and job changes
5. stay away from criminal associates
-this one is hard because sometimes family members are criminals, sometimes
someone you are with on the street is, you never know
1. Drug counseling
2. stay away from children
3. community service
4. rehabilitation programs
5. long term supervision
Aboriginal People and Sentencing
Are over-represented n prison:
1. more likely to be denied bail and then sentenced to prison
2. more likely to be jailed for non-payment of fines
3. less likely to receive probation
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