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Sentencing in South African Courts

Apart from specific provisions of the Magistrate's Courts Act, 1944 (Act 32 of 1944), or any other Act, jurisdiction with regard to sentences imposed by District Courts is limited to a period of not more than three years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding R60 000. The Regional Court can impose a sentence of not more than 15 years' imprisonment or a fine not exceeding R300 000.

Any person charged with any offence committed within any district or regional division may be tried either by the Court of that district or the Court of that regional division Where it is uncertain in which of several jurisdictions an offence has been committed, it may be tried in any of such jurisdictions.

Where, by any special provision of law, a Magistrate's Court has jurisdiction over an offence committed beyond the limits of the district or regional division, the Court will not be deprived of such jurisdiction.

A Magistrate's Court has jurisdiction over all offences except treason, murder and rape. The Regional Court has jurisdiction over all offences except treason. However, the High Court may try all offences. Depending on the gravity of the offence and circumstances pertaining to the offender, the DPP decides in which court a matter will be heard. He or she may even decide on a summary trial in the High Court.

Prosecutions are usually summarily disposed of in Magistrate's Courts, and judgment and sentence passed. The following sentences may, where provided for by law, be passed upon a convicted person:

  • imprisonment
  • periodical imprisonment
  • declaration as a habitual criminal (Regional Court and High Court)
  • committal to an institution established by law
  • a fine with or without imprisonment as alternative, correctional supervision or a suspended sentence
  • declaration as a dangerous criminal (Regional Court and High Court)
  • a warning or caution
  • discharge.

The sentencing of 'petty' offenders to do community service as a condition of suspension, correctional supervision or postponement in appropriate circumstances has become part of an alternative sentence to imprisonment.
 

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Each country has its own specific federal system based on justice and strictness, South Africa seems to be very well organized in this regard. Those who are prosecuted for different offenses could use a Pascuzzi, Moore & Stoker attorney to represent them in a court room, their knowledge could help on reducing their sentence.

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The systems seems to be slightly different from other occidental system but the basis principles remain the same. Without proper justice we cannot feel safe in our countries, so a good justice system is like a mirror that shows how things are being solved in one specific country. We should all know few things about the law, this way we can find the ways to protect ourselves a lot easier, that what people at the Wren Law Firm say and I believe them.

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