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Sentencing principles

A judge must follow the guidelines set out in the Sentencing Act 2002.
A judge must follow the guidelines set out in the Sentencing Act 2002.

After a defendant has been convicted, a judge must follow the guidelines set out in the Sentencing Act 2002 to ensure the sentence they hand down is appropriate.

The act sets out the purposes and principles of sentencing, and states that while a defendant must be held accountable for the harm done to their victim and or the community and the sentence must deter them and others from committing similar offences, it must not be disproportionately severe.

Section 6
Penal enactments not to have retrospective effect to disadvantage of offender
• (1) An offender has the right, if convicted of an offence in respect of which the penalty has been varied between the commission of the offence and sentencing, to the benefit of the lesser penalty.
(2) Subsection (1) applies despite any other enactment or rule of law.

Section 7
Purposes of sentencing or otherwise dealing with offenders

• (1) The purposes for which a court may sentence or otherwise deal with an offender are-
• (a) to hold the offender accountable for harm done to the victim and the community by the offending; or
• (b) to promote in the offender a sense of responsibility for, and an acknowledgment of, that harm; or
• (c) to provide for the interests of the victim of the offence; or
• (d) to provide reparation for harm done by the offending; or
• (e) to denounce the conduct in which the offender was involved; or
• (f) to deter the offender or other persons from committing the same or a similar offence; or
• (g) to protect the community from the offender; or
• (h) to assist in the offender's rehabilitation and reintegration; or
• (i) a combination of 2 or more of the purposes in paragraphs (a) to (h).
(2) To avoid doubt, nothing about the order in which the purposes appear in this section implies that any purpose referred to must be given greater weight than any other purpose referred to.

Section 8
Principles of sentencing or otherwise dealing with offenders

• In sentencing or otherwise dealing with an offender the court:
• (a) must take into account the gravity of the offending in the particular case, including the degree of culpability of the offender; and
• (b) must take into account the seriousness of the type of offence in comparison with other types of offences, as indicated by the maximum penalties prescribed for the offences; and
• (c) must impose the maximum penalty prescribed for the offence if the offending is within the most serious of cases for which that penalty is prescribed, unless circumstances relating to the offender make that inappropriate; and
• (d) must impose a penalty near to the maximum prescribed for the offence if the offending is near to the most serious of cases for which that penalty is prescribed, unless circumstances relating to the offender make that inappropriate; and
• (e) must take into account the general desirability of consistency with appropriate sentencing levels and other means of dealing with offenders in respect of similar offenders committing similar offences in similar circumstances; and
• (f) must take into account any information provided to the court concerning the effect of the offending on the victim; and
• (g) must impose the least restrictive outcome that is appropriate in the circumstances, in accordance with the hierarchy of sentences and orders set out in section 10A; and
• (h) must take into account any particular circumstances of the offender that mean that a sentence or other means of dealing with the offender that would otherwise be appropriate would, in the particular instance, be disproportionately severe; and
• (i) must take into account the offender's personal, family, whanau, community, and cultural background in imposing a sentence or other means of dealing with the offender with a partly or wholly rehabilitative purpose; and
• (j) must take into account any outcomes of restorative justice processes that have occurred, or that the court is satisfied are likely to occur, in relation to the particular case (including, without limitation, anything referred to in section 10).

- NZ Herald

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