Here are some things you should know about what a Court considers during the process of deciding on the appropriate sentence:
What are the objectives of sentencing?
- There are 4 main sentencing principles which guide the Court during sentencing:
- Retribution: This is the principle that the offender must suffer the penalty for the criminal act which he has carried out. Importantly, the principle of retribution includes the rule that the punishment must appropriately, proportionately, and accurately reflect and fit the seriousness of the criminal act committed and the harm it has caused.
- Deterrence: this is the principle that other potential offenders must be deterred and reminded that they should not commit similar offenses. This principle includes 2 other categories:
- General deterrence: this aims to educate members of the general public and deter other potential offenders by making an example of one particular offender to send a strong message that such offenses will not be tolerated and will be punished severely.
- Specific deterrence: this aims to educate and deter a specific individual offender (e.g. a repeat offender) by sending a strong message that his particularly reprehensible actions (e.g. unrepentant behaviour) will not be tolerated and they will be punished severely.
- Prevention: this is the principle that the offender must be physically incapacitated and removed from general public society because the members of the general public need to be protected from his dangerous behaviour and conduct.
- Rehabilitation: this is the principle that seeks to help the offender reform himself from his offending behaviour and into a law-abiding person. This is principle is a major consideration for young offenders and those who are below 21-years of age.
Why does the Court need to consider public interest?
- The public interest is also a principal consideration which every Court will consider in imposing sentence:
- This is because of the strong emphasis in Singapore on the importance of maintaining social order in the community by ensuring that every person respects and follows the law.
- This principle considers that sentencing is ultimately important to reduce the occurrence of crime and to protect the members of our community.
- As such, the Court may impose an especially stiff sentence for an offense which is becoming increasingly prevalent so that the general public and potential offenders can be reminded of the seriousness of such an offense and not commit similar offenses.
- In such a situation, the Court may consider that public interest should outweigh any other mitigating factors such as an offender’s young age and that a more severe sentence may be justified despite the presence of such mitigating factors.