Factors affecting sentencing decisions in rape cases


This report examines some of the more important principles that have recently been enunciated by Australian courts in arriving at sentencing decisions in rape cases. Judicial attitudes to the treatment of persons convicted of rape reveal a basically consistent approach to the imposition of penalty. There are often, however, factors inherent in the commission of an individual offence which are of sufficient importance to substantially affect the disposition of the case. Several attempts have been made to codify and tabulate individual and collective factors considered relevant in the sentencing process in rape cases. Two of these devices aimed at assisting in the formulation of penalty will be looked at in the context of assessment of appropriate penalty and the problems associated with the use of such sentencing aids will be examined. Because of the shortcomings of such attempts to indicate degrees of gravity of an offence of rape it is suggested that to ascertain the true approach of courts to sentencing in such cases recourse must be had to the principles enunciated in individual cases. (Introduction, edited)