Sunday, October 12, 2014

Oscar Pistorius Update: When Is Sentencing For The South African Olympian?

Oscar Pistorius claims that he accidentally shot and killed his girlfriend on Feb. 14, 2013. Reuters
Oscar Pistorius will soon learn his fate for shooting and killing Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day of last year. After being convicted of culpable homicide in September, the Olympian faces sentencing on Monday, Oct. 13.

Judge Thokozile Masipa found Pistorius not guilty of murdering his girlfriend, but the culpable homicide conviction carries a sentence of up to 15 years in jail. While the double-amputee could be in prison into his 40's, there’s a chance he won’t spend a day in prison.

Even if Pistorius gets the maximum sentence, he can still fight the ruling with an appeal. The judge could deliver a maximum sentence because of the likelihood that Pistorius could get it reduced.
"I think we already have an indication that she is looking at his character, in her comments that he was an evasive and untruthful witness," Criminologist Laurie James-Pieters, said, via The Telegraph. "We may be looking at a harsh sentence. She may opt to hand down the 15 years, knowing it will be reduced on appeal to five or 10."

Pistorius’s behavior outside of the courtroom could have an impact on the judge’s sentence. He was involved in a fight at a bar while awaiting the verdict in July, and James-Pieters says instances before the trial began could also indicate that Pistorius is a danger to society.

The 27-year-old was also found guilty of one gun charge, which involved him discharging a firearm at a restaurant. He faces up to five years in prison for the incident, but he could also get away with paying a fine or losing his gun license. Pistorius was found not guilty of illegal possession of ammunition, as well as an incident in which he allegedly fired his gun through a car sunroof.

The trial has spanned more than seven months and has become an international story. It’s featured multiple breaks, including one that began at the end of May and nearly lasted until July, when Pistorius underwent a mental health evaluation.

Will Pistorius get jail time? Experts divided

Pretoria - Legal experts seem to be divided on whether athlete Oscar Pistorius will get jail time after he was found guilty of culpable homicide for Reeva Steenkamp’s death.

Law experts who spoke to the Times said Pistorius was likely to get house arrest or possibly even just a fine.

Criminal law expert Martin Hood told the newspaper that Judge Thokozile Masipa would take into account Pistorius's personal circumstances, substantial financial losses, physical disabilities and medical requirements.
Kelly Phelps, from UCT’s School of Law said a prison sentence would be considered "extremely harsh".
However, another expert, who also happens to be a judge, told Pretoria News he would impose a 10-year jail term with part of it being suspended.

It is also expected that the prosecution will call Reeva Steenkamp’s mother, June Steenkamp to the stand.

In an interview shortly after judgment, June and her husband, Barry, expressed their disappointment that Pistorius had been found not guilty of murder, saying his culpable homicide conviction was not right.
Pistorius returns to the North Gauteng High Court on Monday for sentencing, which was set down from 13-16 October.

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