What is the content of Section 21?

Section 21 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, 1999, gives power to the court to reduce the term of imprisonment or the fine payable by an offender. The section gives the court discretion to award a sentence that is less severe than the maximum penalty.

When does the court use section 21 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, 1999?

Section 21 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, 1999, gives the Court discretionary power to reduce the punishment of an offender. While giving a sentence, the court must determine various factors associated with the offence in question. The court considers the character and criminal nature of the offender along with the circumstances under which the crime was committed and the criminal nature of the offence. Only when the court is of the opinion that the nature of offence or the character of the offender suggests a lenient punishment, the court can pass a sentence under the section.

What factors are taken into consideration while passing a sentence under section 21 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act, 1999?

Mitigating factors that the court considers before reducing the sentence of any offender under the section are:

  • Minimum injury or damage was caused to the victim as a result of the offence committed.
  • The crime in question was not pre planned and there was no prior preparation before committing the crime.
  • There was instigation from the other party in the form of words or violent actions.
  • The accused is a first-time offender.
  • Character and behaviour of the offender suggests that it is unlikely that there will be another instance of an offence being committed by the offender in future.
  • Assistance of the offender provided to the police or the court during the proceedings.

What are the alternative sentencing options available before the court?

After considering the facts of the case, the court may choose to implement alternative sentencing options. This may include home detention of the accused, community service, a good behaviour bond, compensation, and rehabilitation of the offender amongst others. One of the most important of these alternative sentencing options is a good behaviour bond. A good behaviour bond is a bond entered by the offender promising good behaviour in their future conduct. However, the court must be satisfied that the bond is the best available option in any given case.

In case there is a breach of the bond, the court may order the arrest of the offender and suspend the bond. Additionally, the court has the power to re-sentence the offender for the offence committed and the offence against which the bond was issued in the first place.

It is always advisable to seek legal advice on criminal cases as there are several legal issues that may arise. Our team provides our clients a wholistic approach to any criminal issues they may encounter.