Comparing Legal and Lay Assessments of Relevant Sentencing Factors for Sex Offences in Australia

Kate Warner, Lorana BARTELS, Karen Gelb, Julia Davis, Caroline A. Spiranovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

There is an expanding body of research measuring public perceptions of the criminal justice system's responses to offenders in general and sex offenders in particular. However, less is known about public attitudes to the factors that the law classifies as a aggravating, mitigating, or merely neutral. This article presents key findings from the National Jury Sentencing Study, which sought to address this gap in knowledge in the case of sex offences using two groups: 343 jurors who had returned a guilty verdict; and 149 members of the public called for jury service who were not selected for trial. The study shows that, in general, the public's intuitive views of sentencing factors are well-aligned with judicial sentencing practice - a finding that contradicts the stereotypical view of the public as particularly punitive towards sex offenders. Some differences in views on factors such as good character and absence of remorse did appear and potential responses to this divergence are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-74
Number of pages18
JournalCriminal Law Journal
Volume45
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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