A Critique Of Sentencing Outcomes Essay

1721 words - 7 pages

Punishment for crimes committed has been the focus of much public debate for many years with individuals seeing different objectives with the public preferring a more punitive objective of punishment and deterrence from crime (Hough, Roberts, Jacobson, Moon and Steel, 2009). From this and through research completed by Lord Ashcroft (2011), it can be deduced that the general public are in favour of custodial sentences rather than a rehabilitative disposal. In developing sentencing guidelines, a consultation is undertaken with criminal justice professionals and the wider public over a 12 week period before the final sentencing guidelines are produced and implemented. This essay will go on ...view middle of the document...

The actions of Ms Hayes renders her triable under section 89 of the Police Act 1996 which states “any person who assaults a constable in the execution of his duty, or a person assisting a constable in the execution of his duty, shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both”. This sentence however, is the maximum penalty for a category one offence, indicative greater harm and higher culpability. Using the sentencing guidelines to assess the offence category, it would be assessed that greater harm is present due to the assault on more than one officer and higher culpability due to the use of a weapon equivalent – Ms Hayes elbowing the police officers, kicking them and spitting in the face of one of the officers.
In assessing the aggravating factors as outlined in the report, these have been identified as Ms Hayes being under the influence of alcohol, the excessive use of violence: spitting at one police officer and elbowing the second officer in the chest, the bruising experienced by both officers and the instance that both officers were unable to continue with their duties for the remainder of their day.
Taking into account the aggravating factors in the commission of the offence, it must be assessed on balance with the mitigating factors. Within the newspaper report, the factors of mitigation can be identified as Ms Hayes having no previous convictions, being under severe stress at the time due to the argument with her mother and awareness of the need to address her underlying alcohol problems.
In assessing the proportionality of the sentence passed on Ms Hayes, it has been identified that the commission of a violent offence by a female is extremely rare but not unheard of (womeninprison.org, 2013) but since the publication of The Corston Report in 2007, it has been felt that there is still a long way to go in sentencing women with regards to their gender, rather than being sentenced as per their male counterparts. In assessing proportionality of the sentencing of Ms Hayes, this will be assessed after reviewing case study two.
Case study two relates to a male offender by the name of Michael John Smith. Mr Smith was charged for committing an offence of common assault against his intimate ex partner. Whilst originally charged with Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm, an offence which he originally denied, he did change his plea to guilty when the new charge of Common Assault was offered. The sentence received by Mr Smith was one of an 18 month community order with a condition to attend a domestic violence treatment programme and 100 hours unpaid work. In referring to the Sentencing Guidelines, of which there are no separate sentencing guidelines for domestic violence, this is a triable only summary offence in contravention of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, section 39. This sub section...

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