U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Sentencing the Multiple Offender: Judicial Practice and Legal Principle

NCJ Number
Austin Lovegrove
Date Published
200 pages
This study examined judicial policy and practice for the sentencing of multiple offenders in Australia.
Multiple offenders are offenders who are charged with more than one crime during one hearing. The multiple crimes may be related or unrelated to one another. The current study sought to discover the judicial principles and practices for sentencing such offenders and to explore whether sentences imposed in these cases conform to the principle of proportionality. Methodology involved qualitative interviews with eight Victorian Country Court judges to discover how they arrive at their judgments in cases involving multiple offenses. Data were also gathered on rape, armed robbery, and burglary cases from official court records and a review was preformed of High Court decisions and Victorian Court of Appeal decisions. Results indicated that three main factors governed the decisionmaking process of judges: (1) the length of sentence for the principle offense; (2) the total of the sentences for the secondary offenses; and (3) the need to avoid an overly punitive total effective sentence of imprisonment. Generally, judges reconciled these factors by: (1) making the sentences for the secondary offenses not fully cumulative, and (2) by providing longer total effective sentences for the more serious cases. Results also suggested that at least one-third of the case sentences could be regarded as disproportionate to the offense. The findings invite policy debate concerning the most appropriate response to multiple offenders; detailed and comprehensive sentencing principles are needed to provide a framework for judges deciding sentences in these cases. A numerical framework is recommended and described. Figures, tables, notes, cases, references