Thursday, 1 March 2007

Knowledgeable Lawmaking

Notsaussure, attempting to comment on my Lawmaking post, has sent me a txt file but it was so detailed I thought I'd be slightly cheeky and post it as a new post in its own right. Ns writes:

Tin Drummer, you be pleased to learn that these proposals for banning Holocaust Denial have, in fact,been dropped as a result of opposition from several countries, including the UK. There was never, to my mind, any serious chance of their becoming law; since the Germans must have known this, I suspect that the proposal must have had more to do with internal German politics than anything else. Minor point about sentencing; you ask 'why will fiddling with the road-pricing boxes or not cooperating with a road pricing inspector carry a 6 month jail sentence? ' The answer is that, in practice, it wouldn't -- the maximum sentence is there as an indication of what sort of sentence Parliament expects courts to hand down, not as an indication of what they should do. A better question would be why they need to create a separate offence of tampering with a road-pricing box when there's a perfectly good offence of criminal damage that carries -- assuming the damage is less that £5,000 -- similar penalties. For Criminal Damage at this level, the Magistrates Court Bench Book suggests a conditional discharge (usually accompanied with compensation) or a fine will normally be appropriate, with community penalties reserved for more extreme cases and prison for only the most aggravated ones (which I think would normally be reserved for fthe most persistent offenders). As to your point about how long someone might expect to spend in custody if he kills someone, I think we need to be specific about this. Someone might, indeed, spend as little as 18 months in custody if he kills someone, if he's found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. At the other end of the scale, if he's convicted of murder, there are various minimum periods of imprisonment specificed in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 before he may be considered for parole -- most of them 20 or 25 years. For a murder that doesn't have the aggravating features that attract a CJA minimum, the murdered can normally expect to spend about 14 years in custody before he's released on licence. If someone's convicted of manslaughter, then he may well spend less than that in custody, but it very much depends on the circumstances of the killing and on what the parole board think of him six or seven years after the event.

I am grateful to him for putting me straight. My post was really an anxious scratch, rather than a legal exposition. My fear was, and remains, that proposals are being advanced with the threat of stiff punishments as part of them, as if in the knowledge that these are unnecessary or unwanted laws. I would like to think that the authorities will be sensible, but part of me believes that the punishments, in practice rather than theory, will indeed be stiffer for this kind of damage than for ordinary criminal damage - in the sense that it would be seen as a political crime. I am interested to see what the council-smoking-inspectors are going to do, as well.

Thanks, Notsaussure. Thotsaussure.*

*=this is a Look Around You 2 joke. Buy the dvd, it's very funny.

UPDATE: 6.40pm: NS, the link you give -which hasn't come out on the copied text, I see - is to an old story from 2005. The proposal to "harmonise" the EU laws on holocaust denial is from this year

UPDATE: Friday 9.00PM: With NS's help to correct my total ignorance, I've fixed the links in his comment.

1 comment:

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Ho, hum. Crushed by Ingsoc is a twenty a day smoker...
I'm going to have to say A quick Hi and see you again Sunday- reasons posted on my blog.
I'll have some responses to this post- and any others by then.
See you soon