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Sentencing

  • Legislation should state that evidence of prior acts of violence, including abuse, stalking or exploitation, should be considered in the sentencing guidelines. (See: Model Strategies, 7(f) p.34.)
  • Legislation should not contain lesser penalties for crimes against particular classifications of survivors, such as prostituted women or non-virgins. (See: UN Handbook, 3.11.2.)
  • Legislation should provide for aggravated sentences for sexual assault of a minor that include sexual assaults of all persons under the age of 18. The legislation should not include gradations in sentencing that result in lesser penalties for sexual assaults of older teenagers.

Example: The Act to Amend the Penal Code (2005) of Liberia states:

Rape is a felony of the first degree where:

The victim was less than 18 years of age at the time the offence was committed;…Section 2, 14.70, 4(a)(i).

 

Plea agreements and bail or conditional pre-trial release decisions

Legislation should require that judicial officers who determine bail decisions that allow the pre-trial release of an offender shall examine the dangers of each particular case of sexual assault as to the individual survivor as well as society and to delineate conditions designed for survivor safety. (See: National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the Violence Against Women Office, The Toolkit to End Violence Against Women,, p. 13; and Lethality or risk assessments in the section on Developing Legislation on Domestic Violence.)

Example: the Criminal Procedure Code of Minnesota, USA states:

 (a) When a person is arrested for a crime against the person, the judge before whom the arrested person is taken shall review the facts surrounding the arrest and detention. If the person was arrested or detained for committing a crime of violence…the prosecutor or other appropriate person shall present relevant information involving the victim or the victim's family's account of the alleged crime to the judge to be considered in determining the arrested person's release. The arrested person must be ordered released pending trial or hearing on the person's personal recognizance or on an order to appear or upon the execution of an unsecured bond in a specified amount unless the judge determines that release (1) will be inimical to public safety, (2) will create a threat of bodily harm to the arrested person, the victim of the alleged crime, or another, or (3) will not reasonably assure the appearance of the arrested person at subsequent proceedings. §629.715 Subdv.1(a)


Legislation should require that plea agreements (allowing defendants to plead guilty to a lesser charge) in sexual assault, harassment and stalking cases should be carefully examined and decided with survivor safety as the foremost consideration. Besides the risk of flight, such factors as intimidation of the survivor or the survivor’s children and risk of harm to the same should be considered. (See: National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and the Violence Against Women Office, The Toolkit to End Violence Against Women, p.13, p.16.)

Legislation should require that judicial officers receive input from the survivor which is relevant to plea and bail consideration. See section below on: Notification of case progress and disposition.

Example: The Sexual Offences Act (2003) of Lesotho states that in a bail application proceeding, a complainant has the right to “request the prosecutor in the proceedings to present any evidence to the court that may be relevant to any question under consideration by the court in the proceedings. Part VII, 28 (2)

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