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No harm, no foul?

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libertygrl
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Posted 02/24/12 - 11:53 AM:
Subject: No harm, no foul?
In your opinion, should sentencing for crimes be based strictly on the crime committed, or should it be taken into account how much harm was done by the crime?

Let us take traffic lights for example. The law says red means stop. Should person A, who ran a red light and injured nobody, and failed to do any property damage, receive the same penalty as person B, who ran the red light and plowed into another vehicle, sending the driver to the hospital seriously injured and doing massive property damage at the same time?

You may recall another topic in which we talked about sentencing for bank robbery - let's say in example A, no one is hurt, the robbers are caught and no money is taken from the bank. In example B, the robbers are eventually arrested but first they got away with large sums of money which were spent, and a bystander was shot and killed.

I have heard the argument that it is unfair to sentence these situations (A & B) differently from each other, because even though the outcome was different in each case, the intent was the same. It was said that perfectly random, circumstantial events can radically change the outcome but yet the individual is punished for them. What do you guys think?
Thinker13
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Posted 02/24/12 - 12:41 PM:

libertygrl wrote:
In your opinion, should sentencing for crimes be based strictly on the crime committed, or should it be taken into account how much harm was done by the crime?

Let us take traffic lights for example. The law says red means stop. Should person A, who ran a red light and injured nobody, and failed to do any property damage, receive the same penalty as person B, who ran the red light and plowed into another vehicle, sending the driver to the hospital seriously injured and doing massive property damage at the same time?

You may recall another topic in which we talked about sentencing for bank robbery - let's say in example A, no one is hurt, the robbers are caught and no money is taken from the bank. In example B, the robbers are eventually arrested but first they got away with large sums of money which were spent, and a bystander was shot and killed.

I have heard the argument that it is unfair to sentence these situations (A & B) differently from each other, because even though the outcome was different in each case, the intent was the same. It was said that perfectly random, circumstantial events can radically change the outcome but yet the individual is punished for them. What do you guys think?



A good question. I can strongly relate to traffic light example. I have found many of us crossing red-lights in many cases where there was no harm. In fact, sometimes I have found traffic police asking us to move quickly over in order to align traffic even when it was a red light.

Even in case of bank robbery, it's pretty evident that the case where nobody was shot is less severe. I do think however that intentions are important. But most of us would agree that unless you're too agitated and have been harboring thoughts of killing, you cannot just end up killing many people during a robbery. You don't really value life of people if you kill many.


However, this question is worth a good discussion. smiling face
thedoc
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Posted 02/24/12 - 1:11 PM:

libertygrl wrote:
In your opinion, should sentencing for crimes be based strictly on the crime committed, or should it be taken into account how much harm was done by the crime?

Let us take traffic lights for example. The law says red means stop. Should person A, who ran a red light and injured nobody, and failed to do any property damage, receive the same penalty as person B, who ran the red light and plowed into another vehicle, sending the driver to the hospital seriously injured and doing massive property damage at the same time?

You may recall another topic in which we talked about sentencing for bank robbery - let's say in example A, no one is hurt, the robbers are caught and no money is taken from the bank. In example B, the robbers are eventually arrested but first they got away with large sums of money which were spent, and a bystander was shot and killed.

I have heard the argument that it is unfair to sentence these situations (A & B) differently from each other, because even though the outcome was different in each case, the intent was the same. It was said that perfectly random, circumstantial events can radically change the outcome but yet the individual is punished for them. What do you guys think?



I believe in both these cases the sentencing or penalty will be different for a greater severity of crime for a very simple reason. In the case of the stop sign, failing to stop is one charge, but if there is property damage or injury to other persons there will be additional charges and additional penalties. The same would be true of the Bank Robbery, attempted robbery is a charge at one level but if the robbery is sucessful that is a different more serious charge. I believe that there is in the code that if a death occurs during the commision of a felony that is related to that crime, it is charged as murder and the felon is then charged with murder, so there would again be more charges and more penalty. Many serious crimes involve multiple charges and are seldon a single charge. Sometimes that can be to the advantage of the person charged as they can agree to plead guilty to the lesser charges and have the more serious ones dropped.
thedoc
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Posted 02/24/12 - 1:19 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

I do think however that intentions are important.



Intentions are very important if they can be proved, it could be the differente between an accident which is not a crime and a deliberate action which could be a crime.
libertygrl
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Posted 02/27/12 - 1:10 PM:

Yes, trying to prove intentions can definitely be problematic. I think this is one of the reasons a jury system is ideal (even if it's not perfect), so you can at least have a group of people trying to weigh it out and figure out what the accused person was trying to do. It's also problematic in cases of mental illness, where accidents result from not clear thinking, as opposed to lucid decisions with intent.
henry quirk
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Posted 02/28/12 - 9:37 AM:

The dispensing of 'justice' ought to geared to the individual in his or her particular circumstance.

Sentencing guidelines and mandatory sentencing ought to get tossed.

Judges and juries need to work, think, consider, rather than walk through proscribed motions.
thedoc
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Posted 02/28/12 - 4:33 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
The dispensing of 'justice' ought to geared to the individual in his or her particular circumstance.

Sentencing guidelines and mandatory sentencing ought to get tossed.

Judges and juries need to work, think, consider, rather than walk through proscribed motions.



But sometimes those proscribed motions can be to your advantage. But I agree that there needs to be a more intelligent application of the law. Did you know that the rules of evidence are somewhat in favor of the plantiff.
henry quirk
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Posted 02/29/12 - 9:23 AM:

"Did you know that the rules of evidence are somewhat in favor of the plantiff."

Sure...the notion of 'innocent till proven guilty' is utter horseshit...it's always has been and always will be 'guilty till proven innocent'.
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