The Anatomy of Exceptional Factors, or the Understanding of the Principle of Fairness and its Implementation in the Process of Sentencing

Giedrius Būdvytis

Abstract


The sentencing process is probably the most essential and the most difficult stage of the Criminal Law and the criminal process. To impose a penalty is to add up incomparable and often conflicting purposes of punishment: public protection, offender correction, general and special prevention and others. In this article the author analyzes Lithuania’s Criminal Code Article 54 Paragraph 3, which has recently quite a significant impacted the process of imposing punishment, however, the effect hasn’t been thoroughly examined by scientists. First of all, the author examines the principle of justice (proportionality, equity) or of sometimes called fairness in criminal law doctrine, not leaving behind the concepts of fairness in philosophical discourse. Then the author moves on to the practical aspects of the problem concerning the application of the above Criminal Code Rule in court practice. So this article attempts to formulate the conceptual understanding of the application of the Criminal Code Article 54 Paragraph 3 and to disclose some important and problematic moments which are appear in judicial practice.
It should be noted that the principle of justice is in common use of all branches of law. Moreover, it is the main guide, the general idea, the essence of law, and in imposing sentences it obtains specific characteristics, which determine the need to designate the proper individualized sentence for the offender. Lithuania’s Criminal Code Article 54 Paragraph 3 states that “if the imposed punishment according to the provided sanction is clearly contrary to the principle of fairness, the court, in accordance with the role of punishment, may motivate and impose more lenient punishment.” The latter provision reflects in Criminal Law the new neo-classical doctrine, yet, also brin-gs abstraction to the Criminal Law and the necessity of its interpretation. After the analysis of Criminal Law theory and court practice ,the author concludes that the Criminal Code of the Republic of Lithuania Article 54 Paragraph 3 emphasizes the uniqueness of individual criminal cases related to estimations of the offender and his or her criminal conduct, which are of significantly lower dangerousness, when accordance with the general sentencing rules even minimum sanction still is contrary to the principle of justice so the judge has to impose milder punishment. Also it should be noted that this rule is not the first rule of the sentencing process. It can be referred to as the sentencing exception and the last chance for a just and appropriate sentence.

Keywords


exceptional factors; principle of fairness; proportionate; adequate; just; fair punishment; consistent courts practice

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"Societal studies" ISSN online 2029-2244 / ISSN print 2029-2236