Women and Justice: Keywords

Domestic Case Law

State v. Gudyanga (2015)

Domestic and intimate partner violence

This was a review of a sentence imposed by a trial magistrate at the request of the regional magistrate. In the opinion of the regional magistrate, the sentence imposed by the trial magistrate was too harsh and a community service sentence would have been just in the case. The accused was charged with physical abuse as defined under the DVA. The 20-year-old accused assaulted the complainant, his18-year-old wife, over a denial of conjugal rights. He was sentenced to two months’ imprisonment with a further two months suspended. The issue to be determined on review was whether the trial magistrate, by imposing a custodial sentence on a repeat violator of the DVA, erred in the exercise of discretion. The court found no misdirection on the part of the magistrate, holding that a custodial sentence is not required because the purpose of the DVA was to bring families closer together. Rather, the court explained that judges should apply a multi-factor sentencing analysis that includes, among other factors, considering both the DVA’s purpose to bring families together and whether the accused was a repeat offender. The DVA makes repeat offenders liable for imprisonment not exceeding five years. Here, the accused was a repeat offender, and therefore, liable for a custodial sentence at the discretion of the trial magistrate.

NJA 2015 s. 1024 Högsta domstolen (Supreme Court) (2015)

Sexual violence and rape

Defendant, an 18-year-old man, was convicted of rape and sentenced to one year in prison. The question for the Supreme Court was whether the jail sentence was too long, given the defendant’s age. The Supreme Court noted that that the punishment for rape of the “normal degree” (Sw. normalgraden) is between two and four years’ imprisonment.  Normally, courts reduce jail sentences by fifty percent when the defendant is 18 years old.  However, for long jail sentences, the courts have discretion to further reduce the punishment.  The court also recognized that punishments other than jail sentences also may be considered. Given the crime, the court determined that community service was inappropriate, but reduced the defendant’s sentence to probation and three months’ imprisonment.  Though rape is a serious offense, the Supreme Court adhered to the principle that imprisoning young individuals should be avoided, to the extent possible.