When a loved has been arrested, it's only natural that you will worry about what could happen to them. Part of the criminal trial process is the sentencing phase that occurs after the jury has deliberated or the defendant has pleaded guilty. Read on to learn more about sentencing issues.
It's Usually Up to the Judge
In most cases, judges have a great deal of latitude when sentencing defendants. Not every sentence calls for incarceration, for example, and there are many court systems that try to divert defendants to alternative programs. If your loved can avoid prison, they might instead be sentenced to:
- Probation – This is a manner of monitoring a defendant to ensure they stay out of trouble.
- Pretrial diversion – In some cases, defendants are assigned to perform certain tasks before they are sentenced. If they fulfill the requirements, they may avoid a trial and sentencing, and charges may be dropped.
- Community service or work farm
- Fines, fees, and victim restitution
- Classes – These classes might be on drug education, driving, anger management, etc.
- Ankle monitoring
- Counseling – Drug addiction treatment, psychological counseling, etc.
How the Judge Decides on a Sentence
There are many factors that go into sentencing and some states impose their own rules that must be followed. In general, however, judges consider the following when sentencing an offender:
- The criminal record of the defendant.
- The severity of the crime.
- Whether or not the defendant assisted someone in committing a crime or whether they were the main player.
- Whether or not anyone was hurt or killed.
- The behavior of the defendant in court – Did they display remorse? Are they sorry? Do they regret their actions?
- Mitigating factors – Was the defendant under mental duress at the time? Did they feel their actions were justified under the circumstance?
State and federal laws sometimes prevent judges from using their own discretion when applying sentences. For some crimes, the defendant may be subject to mandatory sentencing guidelines. Mandatory sentencing is a result of the justice system and our elected official's efforts to address what they perceive as lenient or inconsistent sentencing. This type of sentence is handed down regardless of any mitigating factors. Many people have heard of the "three strikes" rule. This law is just one example of mandatory sentencing guidelines.
To find out more about what to expect in regards to sentencing, speak your local criminal defense attorney services.