Area of Law – Sentencing

An Article about Parity of sentence in criminal cases

It is an important principle that two people sentenced for the same offence, should not receive markedly different sentences, unless they have markedly different circumstances. It is often a very useful principle when another person has been sentenced, as it gives you a benchmark to assess your liability against.

The case law about this issue has stated the following as being some of the propositions relevant to parity;

The promotion of consistency and fairness in punishment demanded that like co-offenders not be left with a justifiable sense of grievance by comparison of sentences passed upon them, and upon others.
R. v. Taudevin [1996] 2 V.R. 402 at 404, applying Lowe v. The Queen (1984) 154 C.L.R. 606.

The principle is as applicable to a case of punishment of like offenders receiving the same sentence, where there should have been disparate sentences as to a case where there are disparate sentences passed upon offenders where it is alleged such disparity was not justified.

[18] Postiglione v. The Queen (1997) 189 C.L.R. 295 at 338.

The avoidance of a justifiable sense of grievance does not mean that a wholly inadequate sentence which is said to be a benchmark, should be imposed; but it does mean that unacceptable disparity should be avoided by giving such weight to the alleged benchmark as the circumstances permit.

[19] Pecora v. R. [1980] V.R. 499 at 503-4; see also R. v. Capper (1993) 69 A.Crim.R. 64. To these cases might be added R. v. Wilson (2000) 116 A.Crim.R. 90 at 96-98 [21]-[23].


Date: 09/01/2009