Lesson video

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Hi again, Mr. Henson back for another week of citizenship.

Now, if you've been with me before, you know our routine by now, if not, can you make sure that you've got a pen and a paper, something to write with, and then also, can you make sure that you have completed the pre-learning quiz prior to this lesson.

Now today's lesson, we're going to look at sentencing, and if you've been with us in previous lessons, we've been building up to this lesson so far.

Our question today though is what sentences are available to the court.

So we're going to have an offender come to us, they are going to have been found guilty, sorry, and then we're going to look at what happens next.

So what sentences are available to the court? If we just rewind a few moments, the images that you've got on screen at the moment, look at the five purposes of punishment.

So when the offender is being sentenced by the judge or by the magistrate, the judge or the magistrate will take into account one of or more than one of the following things.

So deterrence, making sure that people are put off from committing further crime, either specifically aimed at the individual or and a group as a whole.

They'll look up, whether they can incapacitate the offender, the accused, the guilty party by placing them into prison.

They'll also consider how they can rehabilitate them.

So how can they fix problems or they may look at drug problems and how they look at drug treatment programmes, finance difficulties, and so on.

They'll also look at retribution.

So making sure that the person who's had some harm done to them, so the victim of a crime, how do they feel about punishment? So they look at, do they think that justice has been served? And then restitution, making sure that what's been stolen, what's being taken from them is given back in some way.

So obviously if they stole a certain amount of money, that will be given back to the victim.

So when they're looking at punishing people, they will bear in mind these five.

They can use more than one together, or they can use them separately.

What I'd like to do is a very quick task is just to bear in mind, the following tasks that you see on screen.

So how many sentences do you know? So I've mentioned a few in the previous slide, but if you are a judge, how many sentences can you name? So how many forms of punishment can you name? Try and name for at least five, but what I'd like you to do is pause the video, and once you're done, come back to the task at hand.

Okay, so we have the sentencing guidelines in front of us, and these are what magistrates and judges use.

Now you will need to refer to these in the scenarios that are coming up and all you have to do is Google sentencing guidelines.

I will direct you specifically later on in this lesson, but what we have to do as people who are sentencing, so either a judge or a magistrate, they have to make sure that the sentence fits the crime and that in other words, each punishment might be different depending on who's in front of them.

The sentencing guidelines help the judges and magistrates come to a decision and they bear in mind various factors.

Now, although the offence might be similar, the judges and the magistrates take into account the scenario and they'll take into account the person, the way in which the crime was committed, and then they'll decide on the relevant form of punishment.

Now, for the purpose of this lesson, I've broken down the main purpose of the punishment into four categories.

Start on the bottom there, the four main types of punishment available to the court are a prison sentence, community sentences or doing something out in the local area for example, doing some unpaid work, it might be some form of fine, and there might be a discharge.

So they might have no sentences, no punishment attached to it, they might be discharged, although you will be kept on their record.

That can be used interchangeably so they can use prison and then have a fine attached to it, there can be some form of community sentence with a fine or on discharge, they can be given a prison sentence that is suspended.

So you might hear in relevant cases that they have been given an 18 month prison sentence, that's been suspended for two years.

What this means is that they will serve that sentence if they do anything wrong in that two year period, even something minor.

If they breach any conditions of their order, they will go back and serve the sentence that's been handed to them.

So while you bear in mind these four scenarios when we're going forward into this lesson, so breaking that down, what do they include? Well, prison is the most serious form of punishment.

What happens is when the crime is so serious or when they've looked at the offender's record and it means it's so bad, so they may have done it before, the courts feel that there is no other punishment that will serve the retribution element of it, so a prison sentence has to be given.

Now how long that prison sentence is will depend on the sentencing guidelines.

Usually though, no matter how long your prison sentence is, offenders will spend half their time in prison, and the remainder of that time on licence in the community.

Now that might be wearing a tag, it might be checking in with the local probation office, and if in that time they recommit or they fail to adhere to the order, if they don't follow the instructions laid out by their terms of release, they will then go and serve the remainder of that sentence back in prison.

Whether you think that's a good idea or not, whether if they get served a five year sentence and they only serve two and a half years, they've still got to do two and a half years worth of unpaid work or anything in the community.

So that's something to bear in mind of whether prison actually works or not.

We move on to community sentences then, this looks at the rehabilitation elements, and these are activities carried out in the community.

As we said before, that unpaid work, so it could be removing graffiti from walls, it could be the litter projects, it could be that you have been ordered to go on a drug treatment programme, it could be that you have to be in your house or a registered address by a certain time, it could also mean that you are on a tag.

And you have to adhere strictly to these community sentences, because if you don't, you can then be put back into a judge for a harsher sentence.

The most common type of punishment is a fine.

Now bear in mind, the amount given as a fine, very much depends on the crime that's being committed, the seriousness of the offence and the offender's ability to pay.

Because if you've got a footballer in front of you and they earn several thousand pounds a week, you're not going to give them a 50 pound fine because that won't feel that justice has been served.

But if you give a 50 pound fine to somebody that's on Universal Credit and doesn't have a job, 50 pounds is a lot of money.

So that might be all the overly harsh.

So the courts very much look at the offender's ability to pay.

They'll look at the income, they'll assess the income and then they'll make an award on a fine based on that information.

So the discharge element is the least serious as you would expect, and it's basically, they will take an offender to court, and that is seen as punishment enough.

The fact that they've been in trouble is enough to punish that person.

So those are the four that we're looking at.

So both as are mine and you can rewind back to this point if you wish.

But what else do the courts consider when they are sentencing? Well, there's things called aggravating and mitigating factors.

Now an aggravating factor is something that will make the crime more serious, something that will make the sentence more harsh.

And I've put there examples, such as burgling somebody's house while the occupants are asleep in bed, so whilst they're actually in the house.

It could also mean that, you have committed the same offence repeatedly, so you haven't learned your lesson, or if you carried a weapon or used force in an offence.

Now the courts will look at these aggravating factors and I'm going to show you a video in a moment of how this works, and then we'll weigh up, does this make the crime more serious? On the flip side, there's mitigating factors and that reduces the sentence, so that, sorry, that could reduce the sentence.

The courts look up the offender's behaviour, they'll look at the personal life and this will then be put to the court.

So it could be that you are a parent and that if you go to prison, this will impact on your family life, it could be the fact that this is the first time offence and that you've never done anything wrong before that, or it could be the fact that you've pleaded guilty at the first possible scenario.

If you do that, you are entitled to time off your offence because you are showing remorse.

Now remorse is that you are feeling guilt, you are feeling that you need to say, sorry, and that you want to put things right.

Now, whether or not you feel that this is a necessary point for the courts, what they have to do is they have to take into account the mitigating and aggravating factors.

And this is why different offenders get different punishments, because they take into account these factors.

Now, what I'm going to do is I'm going to show you a video of how this works.

Now, this is in relation to a drugs case, so she's been found guilty of possession of drug, and the judge will now talk you through how that works in practise.

So this is the aggravating factors, and this could make the sentence more harsh.

Rebecca Edwards, you were apprehended by police in a nightclub, where you had on your person over 300 ecstasy tablets.

These are categorised as Class A, and as such are the most serious class of illegal drugs.

It is my job to determine how much harm you intended or could have caused, along with the role you played in the supply of these drugs.

I may also consider how much you stood to gain financially.

Counsel would like to address the court on matters, relating to sentencing.

We will now get the prosecution, set out the factors that could increase the offender's sentence these are called the aggravating factors or the defence will then focus on the issues that could decrease the sentence, the mitigating factors.

Mr. Lewis, for the crime.

The offender admits that she entered the nightclub with the express intention of selling over 300 ecstasy tablets, for which she intended to make a considerable profit.

This is a significant amount of a Class A drug, which had the potential to cause considerable harm.

The offender was also trying to dispose of the drugs by flushing them down the toilet, when she was caught.

This amounts to trying to conceal the evidence from the police.

So we can see there, the prosecution barrister in that case has put forward facts that could increase the sentence.

Now the judge can take that into account, but he also has to weigh up the mitigating factors.

Ms. Williams, if the defence could raise any issues on mitigation.

My client run up significant credit card debts.

And in order to pay these off, she obtained a loan from an unlicensed lender with punitive high-interest rates in the local neighbourhood.

When she failed to pay these off, she found herself working for the lenders associates, selling drugs.

This crime was therefore committed under some financial stress.

My client is 28 years old, is unemployed and has no previous convictions.

She is a single parent and the sole carer for her daughter.

Neither the father nor other relatives are in the proximity, so a custodial sentence for the mother would be devastating to the child as she will need to go into local authority care.

She also entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.

She should therefore receive the maximum reduction of one third off her sentence.

She has avoided the need for witnesses to attend a trial and has saved prosecution and court time and expense as a result of her guilty plea.

Okay, so you can see that if you are the judge, you've got a very difficult chance and you've got a very, sorry, it's a very difficult choice on which side of the story do you believe more? Do you believe the prosecution side and therefore the aggravating factors, or do you believe the defence side and believe the mitigating factors.

Now I want you to bear those in mind as we go through the following scenarios, what else do the courts consider then? So they've got the aggravating factors and they've got the mitigating factors.

Will they will look up the circumstances of the case, or when did the case happen? The impact it has had on the victim, so how much harm has been done to them? Has it left them traumatised? And any relevant case law? So the Court of Appeal is the next court from the Crown Court, and they hear appeals from the Crown Court.

Now this is a higher court and therefore can set a precedent so they can decide on what part of the law can be interpreted, and therefore what parts of the law are applied.

So let's take guidance from the Court of Appeal.

The judge will also take into account the mitigation factors and also the aggravating factors.

As we mentioned earlier, if you plead guilty at the first opportunity, you can receive up to one third off your sentence.

However, the later the plea, the smaller the reduction.

So if you wait until the day of your trial, you will then not get that reduction because you've wasted court's time.

So what we're going to do is I'm going to take you through an example case study.

And this is very similar to the worksheet that I've attached to this lesson.

So if you follow this process, you should be able to do the scenarios in that worksheet.

A little bit of a step by step for you.

First of all, read the scenario, look at what do you think happened? Consider what are the good points about it and what are the bad points about it? Then there's two new words for you here, decide on culpability and harm.

And I will explain to those points in a second.

Then you've got to decide on a starting point, given a set range, which you should access through the sentencing guidelines.

If you haven't already done so, can you make sure that you've found these sentencing guidelines through a search engine.

Then in the case, in the scenario, you've got to consider the aggravating and the mitigating factors.

Then given a scenario, you must reach a sentence.

So if you were the judge, if you were the magistrate, what would you give this person in front of you in form of a sentence? So the scenario is on screen and we're looking at domestic burglary.

Now there's two scenarios that I've attached to this lesson in the worksheet, also focused on burglary, and if you've got the sentencing guidelines up, you need to look at the Theft Act of 1968, and you're looking at Section Nine.

So Rachel is a second year university student living in university halls of residence.

She's run up significant debts during her time at university, and is very worried about how to repay the money.

One morning, she saw that a neighbouring student had left her bedroom door open on her way out.

Rachel entered the room and stole 35 pounds worth of cash, which was lying on the study table and a TV, which she later sold for 50 pounds.

She was seen on CCTV, and the university authorities reported the matter to the police.

Following her arrest, Rachel cooperated fully with the police and admitted what she had done immediately.

She was very remorseful and paid back the money in full.

She has no previous convictions.

Now what I've got here is the scenario.

And what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk through what I consider to be the most important parts.

And when you get your scenario, I'd like you to do the same.

So I'm looking here, Rachel has run up significant debts, the fact that she has been impulsive, so she hasn't planned it, this person's left the student accommodation, she's left the bedroom door open and Rachel saw her chance.

She entered the room and stole 35 pounds worth of cash, a fairly small value, and she also stole a TV, which she then later sold.

What's interesting to bear in mind is that once she's arrested, Rachel cooperated fully, she's admitted her guilt immediately, so at the very first opportunity, she's admitted that she was guilty.

She's very remorseful, so she feels guilt and she feels sorry, and she wants to make amends for this crime and by doing so she's paid back the money that she's stolen, and also the fact that she's got no previous convictions.

So I'm weighing all these up, okay.

If I'm a lawyer, if I'm a barrister, I'm weighing all these factors up, and then I'm going to present that to the court.

So that's scenario one.

We've considered the scenario and I've pulled out the relevant part of that case.

Now we're going to look at culpability and harm.

Now, before I go into what these are, there are three categories.

So category one looks at greater harm and high culpability.

Category two can be split up, so either you have greater harm and low culpability or lesser harm and high culpability.

So it's a little bit of either or if one's high and one's low, they're in category two.

And then in category three, it's less harm and low culpability.

So category one high and high, category two low and high in any order and in category three low and low.

But let's look at what this word culpability means.

Well, culpability looks at how responsible you are for the wrong deed and how much blame can be attached to it.

And in the guidelines that you should have in front of you, it's been split up into high culpability and low culpability.

In Rachel's case here, I'm saying that she's in low culpability because she's acted on impulse and with limited intrusion, so she hasn't caused any damage.

If you look at high culpability there, there's no degree of planning, there's no weapon that's been carried, you haven't gotten equipped for burglary, she haven't got any screwdrivers, she haven't used anything to force entry and she hasn't been deliberately targeted.

So there's no race here, there's no disability discrimination, she's acted on impulse.

So if we go to the categories then, she's already in low for one.

So she's either going to be in category two or category three.

In terms of harm, harm is how much damage has been caused.

How much harm has she done to the victim of this crime? And again over on the right hand side of your screen there, I'm saying that Rachel has caused less harm.

There's nothing really stolen of value, there's no economic or sentimental value to it, it's a TV and there's some cash.

She's also caused limited damage or disturbance to the property.

So because she's in low culpability and because she's in lesser harm, I can then move on to decide the starting point.

So the starting point for a section nine, domestic burglary charge, is a high level community order, category three.

The range and this is where we will look at the mitigating factors and the aggravating factors, if there are mitigating factors, we can go down to a low level community order, or if there are aggravating factors, we can go up to 20 weeks in custody, so 26 weeks in prison.

So hopefully you've looked at the scenario again, and you're going to look at the mitigating and the aggravating factors.

Now for me, there are no aggravating factors really.

She hasn't used force, she hasn't used a weapon, she's acted on impulse.

For mitigating factors, she's got no previous conviction, so she's never been in trouble with the police before, she's pleaded guilty straight away when she's been arrested, she's shown remorse, so she's paying things back and she's cooperated fully with the police.

So to summarise, we've got low culpability and less harm, so we've been placed into category three.

So that gives us a range of a low level community order to 26 weeks of custody.

Our starting point is a high level community order and our mitigating factors out there, a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity, which will reduce the punitive elements, so the payback element of this offence.

So likely sentence here would be a low level community order for about 12 months, with the required elements that she pays back, 40 hours of unpaid work, and we've reduced it by a third here to reflect her guilty plea.

So there, where it says the reduction in the punitive elements in the form of sentence would reduce this by a third because of a guilty plea.

But as a magistrate, as a judge, I've also said that she goes on a rehabilitation activity.

So I've got to put on here to take an activity to prevent her from re-offending.

So that might be a finance cost to manage her finances, or it might be a safety awareness course to look at the impact of what her crime has done to her victims. If at any point you've now struggled, go back and rewatch the following clips.

What I'd like you to do now is if you've loaded up the two scenarios for your worksheet, go back through and follow that step by step approach.

What I've done is I've also included the answers and an explanation to see where you are.

So self assess whether you agree with my answers or not, and if you don't agree with them, then as long as you can argue your point, great, but you will need to refer to the sentencing guidelines for section nine theft.

So once again, Google the sentencing guidelines, look up section nine, domestic burglary onto the Theft Act of 1968, that will give you the categories.

It will also give you the culpability and harm, place them into a category, decide on the starting point, consider the mitigating and the aggravating factors, then arrive at a sentence.

Okay, so a little bit of a recap of what we've done in this lesson.

We've looked at the purpose of punishment again, we've identified the different forms of punishment, so those form and types of punishment, we've looked at how a sentence is formulated, how it's counted, how it's put together by the courts, you've completed the two practical scenarios and you've then self-assessed against a set criteria, and then you've given your opinion to case examples.

So do you agree with the sentence, if not, why not? Do you perhaps have a harsher line on punishment or are you a little bit more lenient? Finally though, what I've got for you is a takeaway task.

Now the takeaway task here is, I'm directing you to a website called You Be The Judge, and it is taken from the clip that we saw previously in this lesson.

If you just search for You Be The Judge online, it'll take you through nine different scenarios there, sorry, eight different scenarios, I can't count, eight different scenarios.

Now what I'd like you to do is select the one that you find more interesting and go through the cases, look at the aggravating factors, look at the mitigating factors and then arrive on a sentence.

If you find that useful and I'm hoping that you do, you can, along with your adults, make sure that you tweet, #LearnWithOak and drop me some feedback on the sentences that you've given.

Maybe you think that the sentences are wrong and that we should be more harsh, or maybe you think that bang out of order, and that you should change the law.