Sentencing multiple- versus single-offence cases: does more crime mean less punishment?

Dhami, Mandeep K. ORCID logoORCID: (2022) Sentencing multiple- versus single-offence cases: does more crime mean less punishment? British Journal of Criminology, 62 (1) . pp. 55-72. ISSN 0007-0955 [Article] (doi:10.1093/bjc/azab030)

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The “totality principle” in law aims to show mercy to offenders in multiple-offence cases and retain ordinal proportionality in punishing those who commit different categories of offence. The effect of this principle in practice, however, is largely unknown. The present study involved an analysis of data released by the Sentencing Council for England and Wales to estimate the prevalence of multiple-offence cases and compare the penalties they received against comparable single-offence cases. Multiple-offence cases represented approximately half of the cases in the sample which included violent, property, drugs and driving offences. Offence-specific regression analyses revealed that multiple/single-offence case status was not a significant predictor of receiving a custodial sentence or of custody length. Thus, by applying the totality principle, sentencers may be letting multiple-offence offenders ‘off lightly.’ Potential explanations for this unintentional effect on decision-making lies in how the totality principle is defined and interpreted, and recommendations are made for revising the guideline on application of the totality principle.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
Item ID: 32246
Notes on copyright: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in British Journal of Criminology following peer review. The version of record Mandeep K Dhami, Sentencing Multiple- Versus Single-Offence Cases: Does More Crime Mean Less Punishment?, The British Journal of Criminology, Volume 62, Issue 1, January 2022, Pages 55–72, is available online at: and DOI
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Depositing User: Mandeep Dhami
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2021 12:09
Last Modified: 21 May 2023 03:04

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