A person who’s facing a felony charge needs to know what factors go into the sentencing phase of these cases. Knowing what the court will look at may help you determine the direction of your case if you’re in this position.
Each criminal charge in the justice system has a sentence guideline. These are set to help give judges an idea of what the law deems appropriate for the charge. They are often denoted as ranges and typically give the court a wide berth for determining what sentence to give in a specific case.
Some cases have a mandatory minimum sentence. The court isn’t able to issue anything less than what’s required if the person is convicted. Finding out if the crime you’re charged with has one of these may help you determine how you handle your defense.
Another factor that’s used is the person’s criminal history. Typically, the court will hand out a harsher punishment if the person’s been convicted of the same or a similar crime in the past. The criminal history may help the judge to gauge the likelihood that the person will commit the same or a similar crime in the future.
The circumstances of the crime are also a factor. If there was cruelty to a victim or if the person who was harmed meets certain criteria, the punishment for the crime might be harsher.
Your criminal defense attorney should be able to give you an idea of what’s possible in your case. This may include incarceration, fines and alternative sentences. While the outcome of the case can’t be guaranteed, knowing the possibilities may help you as you work on your defense strategy.