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Crimes should be punished because of the perpetrator's actions - not the consequences of them.

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posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 04:59 PM
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I have a huge problem with the fact that criminals are largely punished on the basis of the random and out of control consequences of their crime, rather than the criminal act itself.

Just to outline a few examples:

If someone survives a potentially fatal stabbing, the perpetrator will get charged with attempted murder. If, days after the attack, the victim dies from his wounds, then the crime gets upgraded to the more serious offence of murder, and the culprit faces a more severe punishment. How does this make any sense ?

Setting fire to a building which happens to be empty will result in a possible conviction for arson. Yet, if someone is in the building and dies as a result of the fire, then the crime gets upgraded to, at the very least, manslaughter, or - more likely - murder. Why should the arsonist's reckless actions be ''rewarded'' with a lenient sentence if no-one is killed or injured ?

If a gang of people beat someone up with sticks or bats, then they will get charged with some kind of serious assault. But it's luck, rather than judgement, that the victim doesn't die from the assault. The criminal act itself - exerting potentially fatal blows with weapons - is the same, regardless of whether the victim makes a full recovery or dies.

Philosophically speaking, I'm struggling to understand how a criminal act can not be judged (and punished) on a deontological level, rather than a consequentialist one.

In some cases - such as drink-driving - the perpetrator is punished for his actions, and not the consequences (which don't even occur). However, if the drink-driver accidentally knocks down a pedestrian, or causes a crash, then, once again, the severity of his punishment gets upgraded.

What I propose is that sentencing should be based solely on the criminal act; someone who beats the life out of another person with a bat, for example, should receive the same sentence as a murderer, because it's reasonable to assume that the level of force could kill the victim.

An arsonist who attempts to burn down a potentially occupied building should receive a life sentence, regardless of whether there's a victim to their actions or not.

Now, of course, a punch could kill someone, but people who get into normal fistfights shouldn't face stiffer sentencing, as the intent is clearly not to kill or seriously injure another person, as opposed to a more vicious attack with a weapon.

I would be interested to see if anybody can offer a rational explanation for the consequentialist nature of law and punishment, because I've always struggled to see any sense in it whatsoever.

edit on 6-4-2012 by Sherlock Holmes because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 05:22 PM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 




If someone survives a potentially fatal stabbing, the perpetrator will get charged with attempted murder. If, days after the attack, the victim dies from his wounds, then the crime gets upgraded to the more serious offence of murder, and the culprit faces a more severe punishment. How does this make any sense ?

It makes perfect sense, someone died as a result of his actions. That is murder. The very idea in the thread title makes little sense.



Crimes should be punished because of the perpetrator's actions - not the consequences of them.

Those two things go hand in hand, if we did things your way it would be insane.
Real world- You shoot someone and they die, you go to prison for murder
Wonderland- You shoot someone and they die, you go to prison for shooting a gun. Now if we use that logic someone would serve an equal sentence for shooting a gun in public as they would for shooting someone. So, someone is going to do 30 years for not hurting anyone or someone is going to pay a fine for murder.



Setting fire to a building which happens to be empty will result in a possible conviction for arson. Yet, if someone is in the building and dies as a result of the fire, then the crime gets upgraded to, at the very least, manslaughter, or - more likely - murder.

That is called felony murder, if you kill someone while performing a felony it is still murder.



Philosophically speaking, I'm struggling to understand how a criminal act can not be judged (and punished) on a deontological level, rather than a consequentialist one.

Because the consequences show the severity of a crime.



What I propose is that sentencing should be based solely on the criminal act; someone who beats the life out of another person with a bat, for example, should receive the same sentence as a murderer, because it's reasonable to assume that the level of force could kill the victim.

That is a slippery slope, one punch can kill a man. So should we hand out a murder sentence to every violent offender? That sounds contradictory to the entire OP because now you are punishing people for things that did not happen and boarder line thought crime.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 05:29 PM
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I fail to understand your confusion with this concept.

A person should be held accountable, not only for their actions, but for the consequences (unintended or not) of their actions. Saying "I only meant to stab the person, not kill them", or, "I only wanted to burn the building down, I didn't think about who was in the building at the time" just doesn't cut it.

This is why people need to think long and hard about their choices, because of the unintended consequences that arise from them. For example: Drunk driving. You got loaded at a bar, you needed to get home, you didn't mean to cause a wreck or kill that family. Yet if you did that, you are held accountable for manslaughter. If it was your family that were the victims, wouldn't you want justice? Or would you be happy that the offender got off with a ticket for DUI only?

It's called personal responsibility. I'm glad the law takes into account everything that happens from a criminal act.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 05:30 PM
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four words
innocent until proven guilty

he may have hit man on head with bat and killed him...
but werent they on same baseball team and wasnt it an accident?

it is down to circumstances and 99% of people will say they are innocent
the reason the punishment fits the crime and not its after affects if any is so people learn their lesson
an arsonist who kills a family will have their life in jail to think about their little habit
although i must admit some crimes do not follow this and should be changed
drink driving for one...
in the UK you hear all over news about soft sentences for drink driving killers (16 months!!)
they should get murder or at least manslaughter (12 years +!!)
but what can ya do... apart from mow down an enemy or 2 without fear of a life term...



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 07:26 PM
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Originally posted by DavidWillts
It makes perfect sense, someone died as a result of his actions. That is murder. The very idea in the thread title makes little sense.


I fear you are using circular reasoning to back up your argument. Of course, if someone dies as a result of his actions, then that is murder. That's pretty self-evident.

However, if a jury finds someone guilty of attempted murder, then they accept that there was murderous intent to the perpetrator's actions.

You have failed to outline any valid argument which justifies punishing a criminal act in different ways, solely because of the unknown consequences which are beyond anyone's control.

Fair point about the grammatical incoherency of the thread title, but - in my defence - the original title was too long and got cut-off mid-sentence, so I had to hastily change it to something which fitted within the textual parameters.


Alas, the 2-hour ''4-hour'' window for edits has now passed.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
Those two things go hand in hand, if we did things your way it would be insane.
Real world- You shoot someone and they die, you go to prison for murder
Wonderland- You shoot someone and they die, you go to prison for shooting a gun. Now if we use that logic someone would serve an equal sentence for shooting a gun in public as they would for shooting someone. So, someone is going to do 30 years for not hurting anyone or someone is going to pay a fine for murder.


What ?!

Are you intentionally misrepresenting my point, or did you just not fully grasp it at the first time of asking ?

Nobody would go to prison just for shooting a gun. If someone, however, attempts to shoot someone (other than self-defence or well considered pre-emptive action), or recklessly shoots their gun in a way that you would reasonably expect a strong possibility of death or serious injury occurring to an outside party, then they should receive the full sentence which a murderer who acts in exactly the same manner does.

As I previously alluded to, drink/drug-driving laws are already aligned to my reasoning. Someone could be smashed out of their face, and still drive home safely. Yet it's, quite rightly, a crime because of their actions.

The crime is the act of being in charge of an automobile whilst under the influence. The potential consequences (which may or may not occur) are irrelevant.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
That is called felony murder, if you kill someone while performing a felony it is still murder.


Again, I don't think you understand the actual point I'm making.

Matey-boy sets fire to a building, no-one dies, and he gets charged with a felony.

Matey-boy sets fire to a building, someone unintentionally dies, and he gets charged with a ''felony murder'', and a far more severe punsihment. How does that make any sense ?

The criminal act is setting fire to the building; the perpetrator has no control over the consequences, so why are the consequences the major factor in determining the severity of his sentence ?

That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
Because the consequences show the severity of a crime.


Ah, now we're getting to the crux of the matter. You base the severity of the crime on the consequences of the action.

Tell me, though, how someone who, for example, carries out a vicious and life-threatening assault on another person can be released back into society after about 5 years, yet if matters - which are completely out of his hands - panned out differently, then he'd be facing 15-20+ years in prison for murder.

I'm guessing that you're an American, as an American's sense of ''justice'' is based on vengeance, whereas the more enlightened countries and societies in the advanced world look towards prevention and rehabilitation.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
That is a slippery slope, one punch can kill a man. So should we hand out a murder sentence to every violent offender? That sounds contradictory to the entire OP because now you are punishing people for things that did not happen and boarder line thought crime.


No. I already touched on that.

There is no valid expectation that a punch would kill or seriously injure someone else. Humans are creatures who have frequent bouts of aggression, so we have to accept that there will always be a few fisticuffs thrown around.

On the other hand, it doesn't take Albert Einstein to work out that shooting or knifing someone in their vital organs may lead to death or serious injury.

Just as throwing a punch is not remotely analogous to beating the living daylights of another person with a cricket bat.

How does it remotely suggest ''thought crime'' ? By your bizarre reasoning, attempted murder is a ''thought crime'', because the thoughts and mental processes of the accused are factored into the jury's verdict.


edit on 6-4-2012 by Sherlock Holmes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 07:43 PM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 




I fear you are using circular reasoning to back up your argument.

I fear you are using none to back up yours.



However, if a jury finds someone guilty of attempted murder, then they accept that there was murderous intent to the perpetrator's actions.

Glad you agree.



You have failed to outline any valid argument which justifies punishing a criminal act in different ways,

Well in one scenario someone was killed in the other nobody died.



Nobody would go to prison just for shooting a gun. If someone, however, attempts to shoot someone (other than self-defence or well considered pre-emptive action), or recklessly shoots their gun in a way that you would reasonably expect a strong possibility of death or serious injury occurring to an outside party, then they should receive the full sentence which a murderer who acts in exactly the same manner does.

That makes no sense, those are all separate crimes and they all receive separate punishment. Plus death and serious injury are two different things.



Matey-boy sets fire to a building, someone unintentionally dies, and he gets charged with a ''felony murder'', and a far more severe punsihment. How does that make any sense ?

That makes sense because he killed someone, do you not get that?



The criminal act is setting fire to the building; the perpetrator has no control over the consequences, so why are the consequences the major factor in determining the severity of his sentence ?

Because he had 100% control of setting the fire and as a result of his actions someone died.



Ah, now we're getting to the crux of the matter. You base the severity of the crime on the consequences of the action.

Yeah. Shooting a gun in your house- that is fine. Shooting a gun at a crowd of people-that is a crime. The only thing that makes it different is the consequences of the action. After all no man in the world can control a bullet after it leaves the barrel.



Tell me, though, how someone who, for example, carries out a vicious and life-threatening assault on another person can be released back into society after about 5 years, yet if matters - which are completely out of his hands - panned out differently, then he'd be facing 15-20+ years in prison for murder.

Because he was in control of himself and he either beat a guy to death or he didn't. The law is very clear on things like this.



I'm guessing that you're an American, as an American's sense of ''justice'' is based on vengeance,

Im guessing you are not based on your sever case of unwarranted self importance.



How does it remotely suggest ''thought crime'' ? By your bizarre reasoning, attempted murder is a ''thought crime'', because the thoughts and mental processes of the accused are factored into the jury's verdict.


Attempted murder is not a thought crime, it is an action that any reasonable person would assume bring about death.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 07:48 PM
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It's called, "Chain of Causation". Stick to thinking about simpler matters.

Edit: Sorry if I come off as a jerk.
edit on 6-4-2012 by specialk89 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 08:01 PM
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Originally posted by FissionSurplus
I fail to understand your confusion with this concept.


Are you sure that you're posting on the right thread ? There is no ''confusion'' on my part, as evinced by my OP.


Originally posted by FissionSurplus
A person should be held accountable, not only for their actions, but for the consequences (unintended or not) of their actions.


Oh, right. You must be on the right thread. Whoops !

You say that a person should be held accountable ''not only'' for their actions; the consequences of everyone's actions are what most people would broadly and understandably define as ''chance''.


Originally posted by FissionSurplus
Saying "I only meant to stab the person, not kill them", or, "I only wanted to burn the building down, I didn't think about who was in the building at the time" just doesn't cut it.


You see, you're on the save wavelength as me.

Please explain to me how someone who stabs another person is punished on the basis of the uncontrollable consequences of their action, rather than the act itself.

I can not see any rationale to this whatsoever, other than the fact that the ''justice'' system's primary axiom appears to be vengeance.


Originally posted by FissionSurplus
This is why people need to think long and hard about their choices, because of the unintended consequences that arise from them. For example: Drunk driving. You got loaded at a bar, you needed to get home, you didn't mean to cause a wreck or kill that family. Yet if you did that, you are held accountable for manslaughter. If it was your family that were the victims, wouldn't you want justice? Or would you be happy that the offender got off with a ticket for DUI only?

It's called personal responsibility. I'm glad the law takes into account everything that happens from a criminal act.


Again, you appear to be echoing my points, yet arguing against me. Very strange.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 08:13 PM
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I clicked on this thread because I fully understood where you were coming from with the title.

Then I thought about the implications, and realized that the one thing that is overlooked is the thought of the person committing a crime, I dont mean as if they didn't think it all the way through, but the mental state of a person.

I think this type of rationale is what caused the "possible medical aliments" theory that many like to use in cases where they committed a heinous crime, and then want to claim a bad childhood, or even the famous "twinkie dense".

We could never live in a society where people commit crimes, and have so many easy ways to get away with them.

Peace, NRE.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 09:06 PM
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Originally posted by DavidWillts
I fear you are using none to back up yours.


Blimey. Your comment makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Why would I use ''circular reasoning'' to validate the argument in my OP, when it's clearly based on demonstrable logic and reason ?


Originally posted by DavidWillts
Well in one scenario someone was killed in the other nobody died.


The criminal act was absolutely the same. :bnghd:

By your bizarre reasoning, a paedophile could attempt to ''get involved'' with a young child, but that's fine, just so long as he doesn't eventually rape them.



Originally posted by DavidWillts
That makes no sense, those are all separate crimes and they all receive separate punishment. Plus death and serious injury are two different things.


Ah, hop on the circular logic train ! What fun (!).


Pro-tip:

When someone is arguing a winning point against you, don't reinforce their point(s) by using arguments which completely contradict your position.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
That makes sense because he killed someone, do you not get that?


Riiiight. So matey-boy gets a 20-year sentence because his arson attack killed someone, yet matey-boy would have received a 2-year sentence if structural damage was all that occurred.

Exactly the same crime, but matey-boy gets ''rewarded'' for his aberrant behaviour.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
Because he had 100% control of setting the fire and as a result of his actions someone died.


Yet, bizarrely, you think that someone who sets fire to a building should not be punished in exactly the same way as an arsonist who kills someone through their reckless firestarting.

Words fail me.


Originally posted by DavidWillts
Yeah. Shooting a gun in your house- that is fine. Shooting a gun at a crowd of people-that is a crime. The only thing that makes it different is the consequences of the action. After all no man in the world can control a bullet after it leaves the barrel.


Once again, you're making absolutely no sense whatsoever.

I've already adequately explained that shooting a gun isn't a crime.

You sound like yet another one of these cowardly, poorly educated and gun-clutching Americans who lives in perpetual fear.

Not a good place to be in. Still, dinosaurs walked with man.



Originally posted by DavidWillts
Because he was in control of himself and he either beat a guy to death or he didn't. The law is very clear on things like this.


Blimey. This guy must be from the ''Deep South''.


This is just simple logic which I'm putting forward, yet you still haven't managed to detach yourself from the advancement of the debate which happened hours ago.

Perchance, have you got a brother with three ears ?



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 09:14 PM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 


They are prosecuted by the act itself.Let me explain will use the shooting to start.Ok when a person is still alive but was shot you cant say he killed that person. This is your base assaulted this is the minimum your charged with. Now the circumstances of your crime changes the person dies. This means you no longer assaulted the person you killed them.So the act went from hurting them to killing them which has a more severe penalty. What your implying in your op is trying everyone the same but not all actions are the same. The more severe the crime the more time they do. Do you think its fair to give someone life for stealing money from a store?



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 09:43 PM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 




The criminal act was absolutely the same.

Not it wasn't. Someone died and someone lived, huge difference. Go to a hospital and ask a doctor if you don't believe me.



By your bizarre reasoning, a paedophile could attempt to ''get involved'' with a young child, but that's fine, just so long as he doesn't eventually rape them.

Well it would not be "fine" it would be perfectly legal. You can't throw people in jail for things they didn't do, is this superior European reasoning?


Ah, hop on the circular logic train ! What fun (!).

I don't think you know what circular logic is... Killing someone is not the same as hurting someone.



When someone is arguing a winning point against you, don't reinforce their point(s) by using arguments which completely contradict your position.

Losing? Im not sure if you realized but it appears that NOBODY agrees with you. Just announcing that you are "winning" does not make it so. Is that how it works in Europe?



Riiiight. So matey-boy gets a 20-year sentence because his arson attack killed someone, yet matey-boy would have received a 2-year sentence if structural damage was all that occurred.

Yeah, because he either killed someone or he didn't.



Exactly the same crime, but matey-boy gets ''rewarded'' for his aberrant behaviour.

I would hardly call a prison sentence a reward. What are you trying to say? That all arsonists should get 20 years or that all arsonists murderes should only get 2? Neither one makes much sense.



Yet, bizarrely, you think that someone who sets fire to a building should not be punished in exactly the same way as an arsonist who kills someone through their reckless firestarting.

That is not bizarre, when you start a fire you are responsible for everything that fire does.



You sound like yet another one of these cowardly, poorly educated and gun-clutching Americans who lives in perpetual fear.
This guy must be from the ''Deep South''.

This is just simple logic which I'm putting forward, yet you still haven't managed to detach yourself from the advancement of the debate which happened hours ago.

Perchance, have you got a brother with three ears ?



Protip: If you are going to pretend to be another superior European with USI, don't throw the wrong terms around (like circular logic) just to resort to ad hominem.- see what i did there?



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 04:27 PM
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I have a huge problem with the fact that criminals are largely punished on the basis of the random and out of control consequences of their crime, rather than the criminal act itself.


It is always the consequences that determine right and wrong, never the act itself. Deontological morality is just an useful approximation for practical legal purposes and our limited resources, nothing more.

For example, if we could see the future, drunk driving would (or should) generally be allowed, as only drunk drivers who would not harm anyone would be likely to drive. Similarly, shooting into a crowd would also be allowed if we could reliably determine it would not harm anyone.

So even those crimes where there are no real harmful consequences are really based on a consequence of increased probability of bad consequences. There is no deep deontological reason, just a practical aspect, and they would not exist if we could see the future to know the consequences reliably, yet the world would not be any less moral place.
edit on 14/4/12 by Maslo because: (no reason given)
edit on 14/4/12 by Maslo because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 04:47 PM
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Originally posted by Maslo
It is always the consequences that determine right and wrong, never the act itself. Deontological morality is just an useful approximation for practical legal purposes and our limited resources, nothing more.


How do you work that out ?

If someone shoots or stabs another person, and the victim ends up in intensive care, then how can you logically punish them in a less severe way than if the victim dies a week later in hospital ?

That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless the motivation for punishment of criminal actions is revenge or ''an eye for an eye''.

It's not so much about deontological morality in an absolutist sense - which may emanate from an unsubstantiated philosophical whim - but, rather, from a logical application of deontological ethics in a societal framework, which is beneficial to the citizens of the society who do not transgress the pre-defined behavioural expectations which are laid down.


Originally posted by Maslo
For example, if we could see the future, drunk driving would (or should) generally be allowed, as only drunk drivers who would not harm anyone would be likely to drive. Similarly, shooting into a crowd would also be allowed if we could reliably determine it would not harm anyone.

So even those crimes where there are no real harmful consequences are really based on an increased probability of bad consequences


Again, you are another one who is reinforcing my point, yet ostensibly arguing against it.

You acknowledge that drink driving and endangering others' lives by the reckless use of a potentially fatal weapon are based upon the increased probability of harmful consequences, yet don't seem to agree that someone, for example, burning down an inhabited building should receive the same punishment, whether someone was killed, injured or not.


Originally posted by Maslo
There is no deep deontological reason, just a practical aspect, and they would not exist if we could see the future to know the consequences reliably, yet the world would not be any less moral place.


Explain the ''practical aspect'' of sentencing someone more lightly, if the victim of their attack - in moments beyond their control - survives rather than dies ?



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 04:53 PM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 





yet don't seem to agree that someone, for example, burning down an inhabited building should receive the same punishment, whether someone was killed, injured or not.


Because te consequences are not the same. The consequence of burning down a building differs from that of burning down a building and killing an occupant.




Explain the ''practical aspect'' of sentencing someone more lightly, if the victim of their attack - in moments beyond their control - survives rather than dies ?


So, you seem to really be arguing that if someone sets a building on fire and unknowingly and unintentionally kills and inhabitant, he is not responsible for the second consequence?



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 06:56 PM
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Originally posted by Maslo
Because te consequences are not the same. The consequence of burning down a building differs from that of burning down a building and killing an occupant.


You're merely begging the question (and that generally doesn't hold any logical sway).

I've succinctly outlined the case as to why a societal edict - based on the society's definitions of criminal acts - should be applied to the action rather than the consequence of the crime/potential crime, yet you and everybody else on this thread have so far failed to offer any semblance of a logical argument which would support the current implementation of mainly consequentialist ''justice''.

Remember, in modern societies, we don't base the criminal justice system on vengeance or ''an eye for an eye''. I don't know what it's like in your country.


Originally posted by Maslo
So, you seem to really be arguing that if someone sets a building on fire and unknowingly and unintentionally kills and inhabitant, he is not responsible for the second consequence?


Not at all.

If someone - of sound mental state - sets fire to an inhabited building, then he is well aware of the potential consequences of his action.

The fact that nobody - by luck rather than judgement - died in the arson attack should, demonstrably, not have an implication on the punishment he occurs for his act.

edit on 14-4-2012 by Sherlock Holmes because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 14 2012 @ 07:05 PM
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Right now its kind of based on a haggling / set price system.

Say instead of a trial you are buying a hamburger. The state says, that's 100% kobi beef - so that's a $1000 hamburger. Pay up now!!

You say, "Wait a minute! That's ground rat!! I'll pay $.01 for it!"

A guy hearing all of this says, "No - its ground chuck. $5 is the price! Pay and get outta here!"


Right now its kind of like that. Crimes come with certain levels of punishment pre-set to a certain degree. The cops and prosecutors go for the maximum charge and maximum sentence. The defense tries to get it down to the minimum charge and sentence. Which side wins boils down to which side is best and spinning the bull excrement and if the judge is having a good day or not.



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 05:59 AM
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reply to post by Sherlock Holmes
 





Remember, in modern societies, we don't base the criminal justice system on vengeance or ''an eye for an eye''. I don't know what it's like in your country.


Why, partially, we do. The purpose of punishment is vengeance, protecting the society from the criminal, prevention (by discouraging others) and rehabilitation. Vengeance has its place in this, because it leads to positive emotions in the victim and others.

Anyway, even if we assume vengeance is not a part of it at all, I still dont see how it contradicts consequentialist justice. It is still the negative consequences that are the real target of protection, prevention and rehabilitation. Not the act itself, even tough it may seem that way from the purely practical formulation of some laws.




If someone - of sound mental state - sets fire to an inhabited building, then he is well aware of the potential consequences of his action.


Then he is responsible for them, and can be punished if such a consequence happens.



The fact that nobody - by luck rather than judgement - died in the arson attack should, demonstrably, not have an implication on the punishment he occurs for his act.


Why? He is NOT being punished for his act, but for the consequences of his act he could be found partially/fully responsible for.

The action of setting a fire to a building is not morally or ethically wrong in itself. How could he be punished for it?

The burning down of a building is wrong. The killing of someone by the fire is wrong. It is only by these negative consequences where any punishment gets retroactively justified, and also some low punishment for arson itself for prevention of these consequences.

If arson did not lead to material damage and lost lives, we would be all free to set fires to buildings all day.

No victim, no crime.
edit on 15/4/12 by Maslo because: (no reason given)
edit on 15/4/12 by Maslo because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 15 2012 @ 07:50 AM
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I pretty much agree with the OP - we should usually be held responsible for what we want and intend to do.

But there is a third way between that and punishing the person for anything that might result from their action, well-established in UK and, I think, Scottish law.

I'll explain it by a case I saw in a magistrate's court in the UK some time ago. A young woman, while thoroughly drunk, had thrown a brick in the air in a city street, and the brick had gone through a large plate-glass window in a shop.

She told the court that she had thrown the brick, and accepted that the brick had broken the _ But she said that she hadn't intended to break the _

The court accepted - on the basis of her level of drunkenness - that she didn't intend to break the window, but it also applied another test - whether she was 'reckless' when she threw it. That's to say, did she think about what might happen if she threw it.

She admitted that she didn't, and because we have a responsibility in law not to act recklessly, she was convicted of criminal damage of the window, and ordered to pay for it to be replaced.

The key point is, I think, that if someone had been inside the shop who she couldn't see (the shop was shut), then if the brick had hit and hurt them, she might not have been responsible for that injury. It might have been a consequence she couldn't foresee. We can't imagine every possible result of our actions.





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