On the one hand, fixed punishment will have a deterring effect on society. ‖Individuals knowing that they will be subject to a certain punishment if they are convicted with a given crime will reconsider committing this act in the first place. ‖This deterring effect also leads to social stability and security, through minimizing the number of crimes committed. ‖If people knew they would be able to convince the court or the jury of reason for having committed the crime they are accused of, penal decisions would be largely arbitrary. This would result into criminals getting away with their crimes and into a high level of injustice caused by the subjective approach of different courts。
In my opinion an intermediary position between both solutions is the perfect way to establish and ensure justice and equity. There have to be fixed punishment for all crimes. However, criminal laws have to provide for a minimum and maximum for the punishment and the laws also have to foresee certain cases of exemptions. An example for setting minimum and maximum penalties is Competition Law where a person being held liable of a crime under this law will be convicted to pay a fine, according to the harm caused by the violation and the profit gained by the violator through committing the crime. As for the exemptions, in some countries the law exempts thieves stealing food during a period of famine taking into consideration the distress and hunger. Also, a person killing in self-defense will be exempted from punishment.