Wing Hong Chui and T Wing Lo (eds), Understanding Criminal Justice in Hong Kong, 2nd edition, (Routledge, 2016 Forthcoming)
19 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2015 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015
Date Written: August 16, 2015
Constitutional norms, statutory rules and common law principles govern the art and science of sentencing in Hong Kong. Death penalty and corporal punishments are sentencing measures of the past. As reflected in a 2014 law reform report on suspended sentences, the emphasis now is on discretionary sentencing, although murder still carries a mandatory life imprisonment. Hong Kong courts have a full range of sentencing options to ensure that the punishment fits the crime and offender. Sentencing decisions are informed by traditional purposes of punishment including public protection, deterrence, retribution, rehabilitation and reparation for victims. The purpose of denunciation has been cited by judges more frequently in recent years. Restorative justice, however, is not commonly referred to. Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal provides guideline sentences for specific offences; such guidelines assist courts in setting the starting point sentence in a particular case. Aggravating and mitigating factors serve respectively to move the sentence marker up and down. While proportionality is an applied constitutional principle of sentencing, courts still enhance sentences in cases of prevalent organised crime and routinely give sentencing discounts on pleas of guilty or for assistance given to the authorities.
Keywords: Hong Kong, sentencing law, criminal law
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