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Many factors impact criminal sentencing

Defendants who have been convicted of a crime and those who plead guilty will have to go through the sentencing phase of the criminal justice system. For many, the unknown surrounding this component of the process is troubling. They don’t know what they are going to have to deal with and they might be very worried about it.

There are many things that are considered when the court is trying to determine the person’s sentence. All of these can either shorten or lengthen the sentence the person will have to serve. These include:

  • The person’s criminal history
  • The presence or lack of regret or remorse
  • The status of the person during the commission of the crime (accessory or main offender)
  • Any injuries due to the crime
  • The presence of cruelty or vindictive or destructive behavior
  • Personal duress or stress at the time of the crime

On top of these factors, the court also has to consider what the sentencing guidelines for the charge dictate. Some charges have a mandatory minimum sentence, so the court can’t go below that specific sentence but may increase that sentence. In the absence of a mandatory minimum, the judge likely has considerable leeway in deciding the sentence.

Judges can usually decide to place a person on probation, require them to do community service, pay a fine, go through a pretrial diversion program, use suspended sentences and/or serve time in jail or prison. Before you begin working on your defense, you should find out what is possible in your case and use that information to decide on a course of action.

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