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Sentencing Provisions of the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 - Article Example

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The focus of this essay is the sentencing process and how it is impacted by the guilty plea. The sentencing decision is however, the culmination of a long and complex criminal justice process that begins when a person is arrested or summoned for an offence…
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Sentencing Provisions of the Criminal Justice Act of 2003
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Download file to see previous pages As a result, there has been considerable political input into the criminal justice process, notably through sentencing guidelines, in response to pressure from the public fuelled by high levels of media attention to crime. In striving to achieve the balance between the need to control crime and the need to ensure that the rights of individuals are preserved to uphold the legal principle that every criminal suspect is innocent until proven guilty, sentencing guidelines in the Criminal Justice Act of 2003 may need to be improved upon, because they may not necessarily be serving the interests of justice in every instance.
The criminal justice system may be analyzed in the context of two different models: (a) the due process model and (b) the crime control model, both of which impact differently upon the manner in which criminals are punished under the system1. The focus of the due process model is upon the individual citizen, which produces a corresponding emphasis on the need to reduce the powers of officials such as the police so that they do not abuse their position through their widespread use of their coercive powers over individuals who are suspects in any crime. As a result, at every stage of the criminal justice process, there must be formal safeguards established in order to protect the rights of those suspected of committing a crime.
The crime control model on other hand adopts a different view and control of criminal conduct is the ultimate objective to be achieved. The assumption under this system is that society must operate as efficiently as possible in order to achieve the goal of crime control. Police officers and Prosecutors are viewed as the ideal agents to screen out those who are innocent rather than relying upon court proceedings to achieve the same goal, or allowing a higher degree of importance to the rights of suspects to challenge the criminal justice process if it is found to be oppressive. The crime control model therefore allows for extra judicial proceedings to also be incorporated, such as entering guilty pleas from defendants in order to speed up the trial process.
Saunders and Young offer the view that while many of the provisions in several criminal justice Acts including PACE and the CJA 2003 would appear to reflect a due process model, in terms of actual practice, the system appears to function on the basis of several of the characteristics of the crime control model. Where the question of stop and search powers are concerned for example, they state: "Stop and search in its operation corresponds far more closely to the crime control model than the due process model to which the law is purportedly orientated."2 The crime control model would also be centered upon a punitive model of justice, where criminals are punished for their crimes and may serve to satisfy the need for punishment raised by public perception about the extent of heinousness of a crime. The due process model on the other hand, would adopt a more restorative form of justice, where harm and redress are emphasized, so that there is a greater focus upon rehabilitating offenders and ensuring that they ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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