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IELTS Task 2 - Should the past criminal record be presented to the jury?


rubychautran 10 / 27 7  
Sep 28, 2017   #1
Question: Under British and Australian laws a jury in a criminal case has no access to information about the defendant's past criminal record. This protects the person who is being accused of the crime.

Some lawyers have suggested that this practice should be changed and that a jury should be given all the past facts before they reach their decision about the case.

Do you agree or disagree? Give reasons for your answers.


guilty of past crimes



In Britain and Australia, records of the defendant's previously convicted crimes are lawfully concealed from the jury. This practice is expected to prevent biased judgments on the defendant. However, it has encountered disagreement from some lawyers as they insist that a view of the accused person's criminal background should be provided to the jury. This essay partially agrees with this viewpoint, whilst to an extent, acknowledges the merits of the existing practice.

Firstly, a comprehensive view of the defendant's background, including past criminal records, provides the essential foundation for the decision making process of the jury. Without exception, a person's past events profoundly influence their actions in the present. In the context of a criminal case, criminals involving in systematic crimes such as drug trafficking or bank theft have a tendency to re-commit their crimes, because the crimes are basically their profession. In addition, some offences reflect a person's habitual course of action. For instance, multiple past records of shoplifting or drunk-driving may indicate that the person has a habit of committing these crimes. Therefore, chances of them committing such offences are significantly higher than that of those who consistently conform to the laws.

On the other hand, the current practice is reasonable in the sense that it defends the accused person from misleading stereotypes facilitated by their previous conviction. The mistakes in the past may be irrelevant to the present circumstances, and the person's actions may no longer be based on the past situations. Some offences may be unintentional, and therefore do not reflect a person's tendency of actions. It is also to be noted that many past criminals receive re-education and wish to turn to the honest path of living. Hence, judgments based on previous conviction may become unfair and biased.

In conclusion, both the current practice and the opposing idea have their own reasonable justifications. The criminal background of a person may act as a foundation for their present offences, and therefore should be considered by the jury. Nevertheless, conclusions based on accidental crimes in the past may be inaccurate and irrelevant in the present situation.

This one's a bit long since it's a complicated topic, I had a hard time working it out in my head :)) Please include a specific band score for this essay in your comment if possible. Thank you!
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,974 4811  
Sep 29, 2017   #2
Tan, I can sense the effort that you placed into the development of your response for this essay. While the response that you gave is well developed and highly thought out, you did not present the required response to the prompt so you will score a 1 for this essay. The score of 1 for your essay is based on the fact that you decided to discuss an "extent" essay when this is a single opinion essay. As a single opinion essay, the only requirement is either you agree or disagree and then explain your response using supporting information and evidence. This essay could not have been mistaken for an "extent" essay because the prompt instruction was really straightforward, it asked if you "agree or disagree". Plain and simple. Nowhere in the essay discussion instruction were you asked about "to what EXTENT do you agree or disagree?" Do you see the difference between the two prompt instructions? That is where you found yourself confused. If you do not see the word "extent" in the discussion instruction, then there is no reason for you to partially discuss two points of view in this instance as there is no requirement for you to do that either. This error in prompt instruction comprehension is actually the reason that most IELTS test takers fail the test. I strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with the various types of discussion instructions and how it is presented in the various practice tests here. It will help you to identify the proper discussion type for your next practice test so that you can discuss the topic in the proper manner.
OP rubychautran 10 / 27 7  
Sep 29, 2017   #3
@Holt Wow what a fatal mistake. I will pay more attention to the prompt from now on. Thank you!


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