Understanding the Sentencing Process in France

Crime and Justice, Vol. 45(1), p. 221-265, 2016

45 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2017 Last revised: 30 Apr 2020

See all articles by Jacqueline Hodgson

Jacqueline Hodgson

University of Warwick - School of Law

Laurène Soubise

University of Liverpool - School of Law & Social Justice

Date Written: June 1, 2016

Abstract

French sentencing is characterized by broad judicial discretion and an ethos of individualized justice focused on rehabilitation. The aims are to prevent recidivism, and so protect the interests of society, while reintegrating the offender. By contrast, the political Right, characterized by the recent Sarkozy regime, favors deterrence through harsher penalties, minimum prison sentences, increased incarceration, and preventive detention of offenders considered dangerous. The sentencing process can be understood only within the broader context of inquisitorially rooted criminal procedure. The central part played by the prosecutor (including in case disposition through alternative sanctions) and her role in recommending sentences that the court almost invariably endorses, together with the unitary nature of the judicial profession, means that there is remarkable consistency in penalties imposed. The contrainte pénale, based on a reconsideration of the range of available penalties put forward by the Consensus Commission and legislated in 2014, is unlikely to have great impact without investment in the probation service and a change in the judicial culture that still favors simple sentencing options, including imprisonment, compared with alternatives now in place.

Keywords: Sentencing, French Criminal Procedure

Suggested Citation

Hodgson, Jacqueline S. and Soubise, Laurène, Understanding the Sentencing Process in France (June 1, 2016). Crime and Justice, Vol. 45(1), p. 221-265, 2016, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2980338

Jacqueline S. Hodgson (Contact Author)

University of Warwick - School of Law ( email )

Gibbet Hill Road
Coventry CV4 7AL, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom
02476 524163 (Phone)
02476 524105 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/staff/academic/hodgson

Laurène Soubise

University of Liverpool - School of Law & Social Justice ( email )

Brownlow Hill
Liverpool, L69 3BX
United Kingdom

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