The role of the Court in dealing with petty offences

Detention is not the appropriate sanction for the contravention of petty laws. This fact sheet provides an overview of non-custodial sanctions or orders a court can impose against petty offenders instead of detention. The non-custodial sanctions meted out can either be in the form of a diversion order, where the accused receives no criminal conviction or record, or it can be a formal non-custodial sanction, which involves the accused receiving a criminal conviction or record. There are a number of alternatives including fines, warnings, social and rehabilitation orders, VOM, family group conferencing and good behaviour orders, which can be used to address problem behaviour without resorting to detention. Invoking restorative justice mechanisms can, in other words, relieve over-burdened courts from the backlog of minor cases, and reduce the number of detained offenders. Moreover, such options may avoid the stigma and socio-economic burdens associated with prosecution and detention.

Year: 2020
Resource Type:
Petty Offences
Courts Systems
People Groups:
People in Detention
Duty Bearers
Capacity Building
Strategic Litigation
Policy Reform
Campaign Partner:
Africa Criminal Justice Reform