Difference Between Sentencing And Punishment (Essay Sample)


In the legal field or general linguistics, there are terms that so often confuse people in their usage and application. Such words in most cases, are usually interchanged and therefore, used in a contradicting manner. All these aspects can sometimes combine to create a great deal of confusion in literary terms. In law for example, these terminologies can be the difference between freedom and jail term. They can help in clearly


Most individuals fail to understand the difference between sentencing and punishment. These two terminologies might seem quite simple but in real sense, have distinct differences that also impact their application. A sentence refers to a penalty that a court orders to a defendant if he or she is convicted in a criminal prosecution. The major goal of a sentencing is deterrence, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and punishment. Normally a sentencing can only be performed by a judge even though juries can also pronounce sentences in other states. Sentences are in most cases offshoots of court proceedings.

In case the defendant is involved in serious crimes, sentencing is usually pronounced during the sentencing hearing where the court gives both the prosecutor and the defendant a chance to present their arguments on the penalty. In some states, mandatory sentencing guidelines are established by the federal criminal bodies, and thus the judges are required to pronounce sentences uniformly. These mandatory sentencing initiatives aim at eliminating the inconsistency that erupts when sentencing is pronounced and thus seeks to address the public perception regarding judicial leniency.


Punishment, on the other hand, describes the infliction of loss or pain upon individuals as a result of a misdeed. Punishment ranges from forced labor, flogging, capital punishment, body mutilation to fines and imprisonment. Deferred punishments entail penalties that the court imposes in case the defendant repeats an offense in a given period. Initially, punishment was retributive, and its prosecution was conducted by the wronged individuals. However, in the modern societies, punishment became a community concern and later on an obligation of the law.

The primary aim of punishment is to deter an offender from committing similar or other offenses and also reform them to protect the community. Punishments graduates depending on the enormity of the offense and should never exceed the requirements of reforming the criminal or protecting the society.

Punishment occurs in any circumstance. It can come about as a result of some unwanted behavior, as a consequence of another, or simply, as a result of certain happenings. A punishment can be taken as a generalization, it is a generalized term for any form of harsh repercussions on a person, as a symbolism of the consequences for wrongdoing. In the bible for example, sin is punished by eternal fire. Children at home are caned or prevented from doing something they are used to, as a form of punishment for some wrongful act they did. It is just aimed at ensuring that people mind their manners or behavior.

When it comes to legal matters, a sentence is a statement intended at operationalizing punishment. Essentially, it makes a punishment applicable. As a result a sentence can involve a punishment, but not a must. It can only incorporate the use of punishment at various junctures or instances based on its applicability, need and utility. Whereas there might be several instances that the two might be needed, it is only through  sentencing, that a punishment can be enacted. Therefore, a sentence defines a punishment.

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