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|Criminal trials and convictions|
|Rights of the accused|
|Related areas of law|
The term sentence in law refers to punishment that was actually ordered or could be ordered by a trial court in a criminal procedure.A sentence forms the final explicit act of a judge-ruled process as well as the symbolic principal act connected to their function. The sentence can generally involve a decree of imprisonment, a fine, and/or punishments against a defendant convicted of a crime. Those imprisoned for multiple crimes usually serve a concurrent sentence in which the period of imprisonment equals the length of the longest sentence where the sentences are all served together at the same time, while others serve a consecutive sentence in which the period of imprisonment equals the sum of all the sentences served sequentially, or one after the other. Additional sentences include intermediate, which allows an inmate to be free for about 8 hours a day for work purposes; determinate, which is fixed on a number of days, months, or years; and indeterminate or bifurcated, which mandates the minimum period be served in an institutional setting such as a prison followed by street time period of parole, supervised release or probation until the total sentence is completed.
If a sentence is reduced to a less harsh punishment, then the sentence is said to have been mitigated or commuted. Rarely depending on circumstances, murder charges are mitigated and reduced to manslaughter charges. However, in certain legal systems, a defendant may be punished beyond the terms of the sentence social stigma, loss of governmental benefits, or collectively, the collateral consequences of criminal charges.
Statutes generally specify the highest penalties that may be imposed for certain offenses, and sentencing guidelines often mandate the minimum and maximum imprisonment terms to imposed upon an offender, which is then left to the discretion of the trial court.However, in some jurisdictions, prosecutors have great influence over the punishments actually handed down, by virtue of their discretion to decide what offenses to charge the offender with and what facts they will seek to prove or to ask the defendant to stipulate to in a plea agreement. It has been argued that legislators have an incentive to enact tougher sentences than even they would like to see applied to the typical defendant since they recognize that the blame for an inadequate sentencing range to handle a particularly egregious crime would fall upon legislators, but the blame for excessive punishments would fall upon prosecutors.
Sentencing law sometimes includes cliffs that result in much stiffer penalties when certain facts apply. For instance, an armed career criminal or habitual offender law may subject a defendant to a significant increase in his sentence if he commits a third offence of a certain kind. This makes it difficult for fine gradations in punishments to be achieved.
The first use of this word with this meaning was in Roman law, where it indicated the opinion of a jurist on a given question, expressed in written or in oral responsa. It was also the opinion of senators that was translated into the senatus consultus. It finally was also the decision of the judging organ both in civil and in penal trials, as well as the decision of the Arbiters in arbitration.
In modern Latin systems the sentence is mainly the final act of any procedure in which a judge, or more generally an organ is called to express his evaluation, therefore it can be issued practically in any field of law requiring a function of evaluation of something by an organ.
Sentences are variously classified depending on
The sentence meted out depends on the philosophical principle used by the court and what the legal system regards as the purpose of punishment. The most common purposes of sentencing are:
|Theory||Aim of theory||Suitable punishment|
|Retribution||Punishment imposed for no reason other than an offense being committed, on the basis that if proportionate, punishment is morally acceptable as a response that satisfies the aggrieved party, their intimates and society.|
|Deterrence of the individual|
The individual is deterred through fear of further punishment.
|Deterrence of others|
The general public are warned of likely punishment.
|Denunciation||Society expressing its disapproval reinforcing moral boundaries|
|Incapacitation protection of the public||Offender is made incapable of committing further crime to protect society at large from crime.|
|Rehabilitation||To reform the offender's behavior|
|Reparation||Repayment to victims or to community|
In England and Wales, section 142 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 has specified that in cases involving those over 18, courts should have regard to punishment of the offenders retribution, deterrence, reform and rehabilitation, protection of the public, and reparation to persons affected by their offences.
Usually, the sentence comes after a process in which the deciding organ is put in condition to evaluate whether the analysed conduct complies or not with the legal systems, and eventually which aspects of the conduct might regard which laws. Depending on respective systems, the phases that precede the sentence may vary relevantly and the sentence can be resisted by both parties up to a given degree of appeal. The sentence issued by the appellate court of highest admitted degree immediately becomes the definitive sentence, as well as the sentence issued in minor degrees that is not resisted by the condemned or by the accusator or is not resisted within a given time. The sentence usually has to be rendered of public domain publicatio, and in most systems, it has to be accompanied by the reasons for its content a sort of story of the juridical reflections and evaluations that the judging organ used to produce it.
A sentence even a definitive one can be annulled in some given cases, which many systems usually pre-determine. The most frequent case is related to irregularities found ex-post in the procedure. The most éclatant is perhaps in penal cases, when a relevant often discharging proof is discovered after the definitive sentence.
In most systems, the definitive sentence is unique, in the precise sense that no one can be judged more than once for the same action apart, obviously, from appeal resistance.
Sentences are in many systems a source of law, as an authoritative interpretation of the law in front of concrete cases, thus quite as an extension of the ordinary formal documental system.
The sentence is typically determined by a judge and/or jury and issued in the name of or on the behalf of the superior authority of the state.
A misdemeanor is any "lesser" criminal act in some common law legal systems. Misdemeanors are generally punished less severely than more serious felonies, but theoretically more so than administrative infractions and regulatory offences. Typically misdemeanors are punished with monetary fines or community service.
A plea bargain is any agreement in a criminal case between the prosecutor and defendant whereby the defendant agrees to plead guilty or nolo contendere to a particular charge in return for some concession from the prosecutor. This may mean that the defendant will plead guilty to a less serious charge, or to one of the several charges, in return for the dismissal of other charges; or it may mean that the defendant will plead guilty to the original criminal charge in return for a more lenient sentence.
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Juries developed in England during the Middle Ages, and are a hallmark of the Anglo common law legal system. They are still commonly used today in Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, and other countries whose legal systems are descended from England's legal traditions.
A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be relieved of some or all of the legal consequences resulting from a criminal conviction. A pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction.
Probation in criminal law is a period of supervision over an offender, ordered by the court instead of serving time in prison.
In the United States, habitual offender laws were first implemented on March 7, 1994, and are part of the United States Justice Department's Anti-Violence Strategy. These laws require both a severe violent felony and two other previous convictions to serve a mandatory life sentence in prison. The purpose of the laws is to drastically increase the punishment of those convicted of more than two serious crimes.
A suspended sentence is a legal term for a judge's delaying of a defendant's serving of a sentence after they have been found guilty, in order to allow the defendant to perform a period of probation. If the defendant does not break the law during that period, and fulfils the particular conditions of the probation, the judge usually dismisses the sentence.
Gregg v. Georgia, Proffitt v. Florida, Jurek v. Texas, Woodson v. North Carolina, and Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 153 (1976), reaffirmed the United States Supreme Court's acceptance of the use of the death penalty in the United States, upholding, in particular, the death sentence imposed on Troy Leon Gregg. Referred to by a leading scholar as the July 2 Cases and elsewhere referred to by the lead case Gregg, the Supreme Court set forth the two main features that capital sentencing procedures must employ in order to comply with the Eighth Amendment ban on "cruel and unusual punishments". The decision essentially ended the de facto moratorium on the death penalty imposed by the Court in its 1972 decision in Furman v. Georgia 408 U.S. 238 (1972).
The United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform policy for sentencing individuals and organizations convicted of felonies and serious misdemeanors in the United States federal courts system. The Guidelines do not apply to less serious misdemeanors or infractions.
The death penalty is a legal punishment in India, and is permissible for some crimes under the country's main substantive penal legislation, the Indian Penal Code, 1860, as well as other laws. Currently, there are around 403 prisoners on death row in India. The most recent executions in India took place in March 2020, when the four men convicted of the gangrape and murder of Jyoti Singh in Delhi in December 2012 were hanged in the Tihar Prison Complex in Delhi.
Mandatory sentencing requires that offenders serve a predefined term for certain crimes, commonly serious and violent offenses. Judges are bound by law; these sentences are produced through the legislature, not the judicial system. They are instituted to expedite the sentencing process and limit the possibility of irregularity of outcomes due to judicial discretion. Mandatory sentences are typically given to people who are convicted of certain serious and/or violent crimes, and require a prison sentence. Mandatory sentencing laws vary across nations; they are more prevalent in common law jurisdictions because civil law jurisdictions usually prescribe minimum and maximum sentences for every type of crime in explicit laws.
United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), is a United States Supreme Court decision on criminal sentencing. The Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial requires that other than a prior conviction, only facts admitted by a defendant or proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury may be used to calculate a sentence exceeding the prescribed statutory maximum sentence, whether the defendant has pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial. The maximum sentence that a judge may impose is based upon the facts admitted by the defendant or proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
In England and Wales, a magistrates' court is a lower court which holds trials for summary offences and preliminary hearings for more serious ones. Some civil matters are also decided here, notably family proceedings. In 2015, there were roughly 330 magistrates' courts in England and Wales, though the government was considering closing up to 57 of these. The jurisdiction of magistrates' courts and rules governing them are set out in the Magistrates' Courts Act 1980.
A habitual offender, repeat offender, or career criminal is a person convicted of a new crime who was previously convicted of crimes. Various state and jurisdictions may have laws targeting habitual offenders, and specifically providing for enhanced or exemplary punishments or other sanctions. They are designed to counter criminal recidivism by physical incapacitation via imprisonment.
Three basic features of Japan's system of criminal justice characterize its operations. First, the institutions—police, government prosecutors' offices, courts, and correctional organs—maintain close and cooperative relations with each other, consulting frequently on how best to accomplish the shared goals of limiting and controlling crime. Second, citizens are encouraged to assist in maintaining public order, and they participate extensively in crime prevention campaigns, apprehension of suspects, and offender rehabilitation programs. Finally, officials who administer criminal justice are allowed considerable discretion in dealing with offenders.
In England and Wales, life imprisonment is a sentence that lasts until the death of the prisoner, although in most cases the prisoner will be eligible for parole after a fixed period set by the judge. This period is known as the "minimum term", usually a few years. In some exceptionally grave cases, however, a judge may order that a life sentence should mean life by making a "whole life order."
Collateral consequences of criminal conviction are the additional civil state penalties, mandated by statute, that attach to criminal convictions. They are not part of the direct consequences of criminal conviction, such as prison, fines, or probation. They are the further civil actions by the state that are triggered as a consequence of the conviction.
In criminal law, a mitigating factor, also known as extenuating circumstances, is any information or evidence presented to the court regarding the defendant or the circumstances of the crime that might result in reduced charges or a lesser sentence. Unlike a legal defense, it cannot lead to the acquittal of the defendant. The opposite of a mitigating factor is an aggravating factor.
In the United States, sentencing law varies by jurisdiction. Since the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land, all sentences in the US must conform to the requirements of the Constitution, which sets basic mandates while leaving the bulk of policy-making up to the states.
The Islamic Republic of Iran was founded after the 1979 overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty by the Islamic Revolution, and its legal code is based on Islamic law or sharia, although many aspects of civil law have been retained, and it is integrated into a civil law legal system. According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic, the judiciary in Iran "is an independent power". The entire legal system—"from the Supreme Court to regional courts, all the way down to local and revolutionary courts"—is under the purview of the Ministry of Justice, but in addition to a Minister of Justice and head of the Supreme Court, there is also a separate appointed Head of the Judiciary. Parliamentary bills pertaining to the constitution are vetted by the Council of Guardians.