This proposed system looks a lot like the "sentence enhancement" system used in America for certain features of offending, such as the use of a firearm. A sentence enhancement approach instantly raises, to my mind, the following questions:
- Given the principle of totality in sentencing, will courts discount the sentence they would otherwise impose so that, when the mandatory penalty applies, the sentence is proportionate to the overall offending?
- How is a court to formulate an appropriate initial sentence while ignoring part of the circumstances of the offence, such as the fact that the attack was on a hospital worker, or a police officer who was performing a public service?
- If the court does not ignore the part of the circumstance of the offence that attracts the sentence enhancement, does this mean that feature is being doubly counted, as it contributes both to the initial sentence and the enhancement?