Sentencing: The judge’s decision about punishment


What is sentencing?

Sentencing happens when you have pleaded guilty or been found guilty. It is when the judge decides what punishment you will be given.

Note: This section explains about sentencing generally, including the different types of sentences that can be given and the factors that judges take into account. The chapter “Common crimes” has more specific information about typical sentences for some common minor offences, particularly for first-time offenders. “Common crimes” covers shoplifting, tagging/graffiti, minor assaults, drug offences, and pāua poaching and other fisheries offences.

The aims of sentencing

Sentencing Act 2002, s 7

The aims of sentencing include:

  • holding the offender accountable for harm done to the victim and the community
  • providing reparation for harm done
  • deterring the offender or others from committing the same or a similar offence
  • protecting the community from the offender
  • assisting in the offender’s rehabilitation and reintegration into the community.

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990, s 25(g)

Note: If the penalty for the offence changes between the time you committed the offence and the time you’re sentenced, you have the right to whichever is the lesser penalty.

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