Area of Law – Sentencing

An Article about Health of an offender in criminal case

SENTENCING – health of accused
The health of the accused is obviously an important consideration in a criminal case.The threshold point in terms of prison sentences is that the ill-health must be such that it will make imprisonment a heavier burden than it would otherwise be.

It is sometimes part of the explanation of their behaviour and also important in deciding an appropriate sentence. Obviously it can effect people’s ability to perform sentencing orders like CBOs.

Some case law about it is a follows:

King, C.J. in R. v. Smith at (1987) 44 S.A.S.R. 587 at 589

“Generally speaking ill-health will be a factor tending to mitigate punishment only when it appears that imprisonment will be a greater burden on the offender by reason of his state of health or when there is a serious risk of imprisonment having a greatly adverse effect on the offender’s health.”

Also in the same case:

“The state of health of an offender is always relevant to the consideration of the appropriate sentence for the offender. The courts, however, must be cautious as to the influence which they allow this factor to have upon the sentencing process. Ill health cannot be allowed to become a licence to commit crime, nor can offenders generally expect to escape punishment because of the condition of their health. It is the responsibility of the Correctional Services authorities to provide appropriate care and treatment for sick prisoners. Generally speaking ill health will be a factor tending to mitigate punishment only when it appears that imprisonment will be a greater burden on the offender by reason of his state of health or when there is a serious risk of imprisonment having a gravely adverse effect on the offender’s health.”

 

Date: 09/01/2009