The need for more consistency in sentencing is becoming an increasingly prominent issue in judicial debates in Belgium. The present study examines the desirability and the possibility of enhancing consistency in sentencing in Belgium. As in many other countries, Belgian magistrates possess very wide discretion in sentencing. Like most other continental magistrates, however, Belgian magistrates have no sentencing guidelines or other helpful documents at their disposal. In order to gain insight into the possibility of implementing sentencing guidelines, the opinion of magistrates regarding increased consistency in sentencing was explored. Do magistrates perceive that there are inconsistencies in sentencing? What do they think about consistency in sentencing? These and other questions were asked in a survey distributed among Flemish magistrates. The findings of this exploratory study reveal that Flemish magistrates have a positive attitude towards consistency in sentencing.
- opinion research
- sentencing guidelines