Sentencing Principles

Sentencing Principles

Sentencing principles are the rationales supporting the imposition of penalties and form the basis of sentencing decisions. These principles include:

(a) Parsimony

This principle dictates that the punishment for a crime must not be more severe than is necessary to meet the purposes of sentencing. The court must impose punishments if doing so will achieve valid preventive goals.  However, to be just, the sentences that the court imposed must not be more severe than is needed for them to be effective.

(b) Proportionality

This principle dictates that the overall punishment must be proportionate to the gravity of the crime. The penalty structure should reflect a relationship between crime seriousness and harshness of punishment.  The the absolute level of punishment should be in proportion to the harm.

(c) Parity

This principle dictates that the court should impose similar sentences for similar offences committed by offenders in similar circumstances.

(d) Totality

According to this principle, where an offender is to serve more than one sentence, the overall sentence must be just and appropriate in light of the overall offending behaviour. Thus, when a court is sentencing for several offences committed in the same transaction, the total sentence the court passes should reflect all the offending behaviour before it.

Author: DidiWamukoya

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