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Communtity Law Manual | Criminal Courts | Sentencing: The judge’s decision about punishment

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 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. Including shoplifting, tagging/graffiti, minor assaults, drug offences, pāua poaching and other fisheries offences.

The aims of sentencing

Sentencing Act 2002, s 7

The aims of sentencing include:

  • holding you accountable for harm done to the victim and the community
  • providing for the interests of the victim
  • providing reparation for harm done (putting things right)
  • deterring you or others from committing the same or a similar offence
  • denouncing your conduct– sending a clear statement that your conduct was unacceptable
  • protecting the community
  • assisting in your 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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