Oscar Pistorius Charges and Possible Sentences

PHOTO: Oscar Pistorius returns to court after a break during his court case in PretoriaWerner Beukes/AP Photo
Oscar Pistorius returns to court after a break during his court case in Pretoria, South Africa, Aug. 7, 2014.

The judge deliberating Oscar Pistorius' fate is considering several charges ranging from murder to illegal possession of ammunition.

Here is the list of charges Pistorius faces and the possible penalties if found guilty:

  • Murder for the shooting death of Steenkamp. The minimum prescribed sentence for murder in South Africa is a life term - which translates into a 25 years imprisonment. Should Judge Masipa deviate from this minimum prescribed sentence, she would have to provide compelling reasons for that decision.

    If he is found guilty of murder without premeditation, or culpable homicide, he could receive a 15 year sentence as a first time offender. Mitigating factors, such as his emotional state, anxiety levels and disability could result in a lesser sentence.

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  • Discharging a gun in a public area. Pistorius is accused of firing a gun at Tasha's restaurant on Jan. 11, 2013. The court heard that this happened at lunchtime, when more than 200 people were present, and children were near their table. The gun fired when one of Pistorius' friend was passing the weapon to him under the table. No one was hurt. Pistorius blamed his friend for handing him a loaded weapon and denied pulling the trigger.

    If convicted, Pistorius could be sentenced to five years in prison, although the judge is allowed to use her discretion when handing down sentence.

  • A second count of discharging a gun in a public area. Pistorius allegedly fired a gun through a car sunroof while then-girlfriend Samantha Taylor and friend Darren Fresco on Nov. 30, 2012. Pistorius has admitted getting angry after a police officer inspected his gun during a traffic stop, but denies firing the gun. If convicted, Pistorius could be sentenced to five years in prison, although the judge is allowed to use her discretion when handing down sentence.
  • Illegal possession of ammunition.
  • Judge Thokozile Masipa has the discretion to order that any or all of the sentences should run concurrently or separately. In a worst case scenario, Pistorius could spend up to 40 years in prison, but this would be highly unusual as sentences ordinarily run concurrently, which would translate into Pistorius being sentenced to an effective 25 years behind bars.