While I don’t remember her name, I remember one of the faculty heads talking to us on my first day at university. She told us that the most important thing to remember while studying Law is that we are not yet lawyers. That was to serve both as a warning to stop us getting carried away with our new found knowledge and also as a deterrent to others who might ask us to get carried away with it.
Despite the fact I never turned my degree in to a professional qualification and try not to offer advice, there are times when those three years can influence thinking, presumably in the way that a speech and language therapist I know says that she analyse the way people talk even when trying not to.
In Law, there’s a scenario such as homicide where an offence of killing someone that would could be considered murder can be mitigated down in to manslaughter. There’s also one where the offence stays (so to speak) but the level of punishment for the offence can be varied to reflect the mitigating circumstances.
In both scenarios, though, guilt persists. The accused has been found guilty of an offence.
In some cases, the accused has been found guilty but the mitigating circumstances were so great that the punishment is virtually nonexistent.
In a theory of Law that proposes that punishment is the redressing of a social balance, belittling a punishment can therefore belittle the offence, even it was really serious, and I’m not comfortable with that.
However, the part of me that isn’t thinking in a vague legal capacity and understands that the mitigation is there because that’s just what it is – it was an offence not entirely meant and therefore the punishment should reflect that.
I also know that once a punishment is served, then the guilty party should be able to be rehabilitated in to society. But part of me can’t ignore the fact that they’re still guilty.
And back when I was at uni and this was all theoretical it was far easier than having to deal with it in real life.