Discretion of judges, magistrates and other public officials

Discretion is the power of judges and magistrates to determine the most appropriate sentence for a case. Sentencing and punishment has actively involved the discretion of judges, magistrates and other public officials in affecting the decision of a sentencing. Its role has both many advantages and disadvantages in the way it deals with achieving justice for individuals. As well as this, there are many factors which influence the role of discretion in sentencing and punishment of offenders, such as statutory guidelines, mandatory sentencing and the use of victim impact statements.
For statutory guidelines, various acts state the exercising of judicial discretion. For example, the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 (NSW) is a main source of most sentencing laws in NSW. It covers the purposes of different types of penalties when they are imposed, when they can be used and provides general guidelines dealing with sentencing. Furthermore, the Crimes Act 1990 (NSW) prescribes the maximum sentence that may be imposed for various offences and identifies what can constitute as mitigating or aggravating factors. This however, is left in some degree judicial discretion which determines an appropriate sentence, provided it is within statutory guidelines.


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