Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Ceisteanna (677, 678)

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

677. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice her plans to bring forward legislation with regard to sentencing in criminal cases that involve serious or intimate violence to remove the possibility for being from a decent family to be considered a mitigating circumstance in sentencing. [7265/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Catherine Connolly

Ceist:

678. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Justice her plans to bring forward legislation to remove the possibility for offenders in criminal cases involving serious or intimate violence to avoid or shorten prison sentences by paying compensation to the victim; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7266/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 677 and 678 together.

I know the Deputy will appreciate that judges are independent in the matter of sentencing, as in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the Constitution and the law. In accordance with this principle, the court is required to impose a sentence which is proportionate not only to the crime but to the individual offender, in that process identifying where on the sentencing range the particular case should lie and then applying any mitigating factors which may be present.

There are, of course, a small number of situations where statute has created exceptions to this approach and an important safeguard rests in the power of the Director of Public Prosecutions to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal to review a sentence she regards as unduly lenient.

In relation to the issue raised on sentencing, and in particular sentencing in cases involving serious or intimate violence, the position is that the law sets out the maximum sentence that can be imposed for an offence and it is then a matter for the court to decide the appropriate sentence in each particular case, taking into account all the circumstances.

As the Deputy may be aware under the Judicial Council, a Sentencing Guidelines Committee was established on 30 June 2020. The Committee is responsible for compiling guidelines designed to increase consistency in relation to criminal sentences.