Many penal systems impose lower sentences on the first time offender than on the one who has been previously convicted. This thesis concerns the relevance of previous convictions for sentencingThe Swedish sentencing system is based on the principle of proportionality. The criminal sanction is supposed to be proportionate to the seriousness of the criminal conduct. One of the questions
this study sets out to investigate is weather previous convictions can be taken for consideration in a legal system based on the principle of proportionality. To answer this question the thesis study the degree of culpability that may be ascribed to the offender. Can previous conviction increase this culpability? Or maybe an alternative explanation can give the answer? Perhaps the correct way is
to argue for a reduced disapproval of the offender for his first misdeed.
My conclusions are that, theoretically, previous convictions have no relevance for a proportionality-based system. In practice, however, few people would be likely to argue with the proposition that an offender´s criminal record is an important factor of his sentencing. The best way of dealing with the problem is therefore to give previous convictions only a limited relevance in sentencing.