Offender Characteristics and Prior Convictions in Cases of Burglary
This chapter defines the offender characteristics bearing on culpability, rehabilitation prospects, and mercy in cases of burglary. The particular factors considered are age, previous good character, reason for the offense, role in the offense, remorse (confession, reconciliation, current character, rehabilitation prospects, action taken for rehabilitation), breach of trust, suffering the offender has already undergone because of the offense, deprived family background, personal and family suffering that might be caused by imprisonment, potentially debilitating effects of imprisonment on rehabilitation, and prior convictions. The categories associated with these factors are defined in detail and presented together with the codes quantifying the level of exculpation (mitigation) or, for breach of trust and prior convictions, the level of aggravation associated with each category (see Table 4.1). I and the research assistant made decisions about the relative weights of the categories within the mitigation, with one exception; in making these judgments we considered general trends in the courts’ views on the significance of the factors. The exception to this process was for the factor of prior convictions; here the justification for the weights of its components had a substantial empirical basis. It should be stressed that some of these offender characteristics cannot be regarded as dimensions (all four offense characteristics were treated as dimensions). Rather, the nondimensional offender characteristics should be seen as factors comprising groupings of conceptually linked categories; it follows that for some of these factors more than one of their constituent categories may relate to a case and that for some cases none of the categories associated with a factor may be relevant. One final general point: the qualitatively defined categories should be regarded as illustrative rather than definitive, and the quantitative categories considered tentative. The definitions of the offender categories (and their associated weights), with the exception of prior convictions, are presented in Table 8.1.
KeywordsJudicial Decision Minor Offense Sentencing Guideline Prior Conviction Current Offense
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