n Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - Rape sentencing with the aid of sentencing guidelines

Volume 39, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



This contribution attempts to demonstrate how sentencing guidelines operate in practice, with the assistance of a basic factual scenario plus two slight variations. The factual scenario involves a simple instance of the sexual offence commonly known as rape. The likely sentences for the related offences in four different jurisdictions are then considered and discussed. These jurisdictions are those of Minnesota and the US federal system (both of which use sentencing guideline manuals to establish a presumptive sentence), the law of England and Wales (where guidelines are issued in a narrative format through guideline judgments, and the new Sentencing Guidelines Council in conjunction with the Sentencing Advisory Panel), and South African law (where the sentence discretion is very wide, but currently limited by minimum sentences legislation). In the process it is shown how much more uncertain the eventual sentence is under the South African system with its wide discretion.

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