Criminal sentencing is a big deal right now in the news, especially with
many trial outcomes being broadcast, and there is no one-size-fits-all
when it comes to determining the punishment for a crime. What if the defendant
has no previous offenses? Or what if the defendant actually has a long
track record? This is just one of many factors affecting what penalties
will be assigned to the accused.
Sentencing is the phase that occurs right after conviction–whether
it be via plea bargain, jury trial, or a guilty plea. Sentencing typically
takes less time when the defendant has committed a minor offense or if
a guilty plea was entered. But in more complicated cases involving serious
felonies, the sentencing judge will usually request input from the prosecutor,
the defense, and the
What are the types of sentencing?
Sentencing may be as simple as a one-time fine (and no criminal record)
to prison incarceration. Incarceration in prison is a long-term sentence
usually reserved for felony crimes. Most first-time offenders whose crimes
are not serious will be considered forprobation or a short jail sentence.
Many of us have also seen the orange jumpsuit workers on the side of the
road. This is because community service is also a form of punishment and
a certain number of hours may be required to receive a lesser sentence.
For crimes involving alcohol, rehabilitation programs or mandatory counseling
may be required. In addition, an ignition interlock device may be considered
as part of the sentence so that defendants have mandatory breathalyzers
each time they would like to operate a vehicle.
Why does criminal sentencing vary between individuals?
Criminal sentencing is designed to reduce the risk to the public and prevent
an individual from committing further crimes. For example, a murderer
who does not seem sorry for his or her actions and is deemed mentally
stable may be viewed as a higher risk to the public than a second-degree
burglar who has publicly apologized. Thus, the murderer will likely receive
a lengthy prison sentence while the burglar could receive just a few years in jail.
Sentencing judges take into account the defendant’s criminal history,
the nature of the crime and its impact, the defendant’s personal
and social conditions, and any regret or remorse exhibited from the defendant.
If a defendant is currently on trial for more than one crime or is in the
process of serving out another sentence, the judge must decide whether
the sentences should be served concurrently or after one another. A single
sentence may be deferred or suspended based on the severity of other sentences.
Because the sentencing process is so complex there is no way to say for
sure what an individual sentence may entail. For this reason, it is important
to consult a lawyer if you are about to have a sentencing hearing or immediately
after conviction. A lawyer can help convince the judge that you are not
a future threat and a lesser sentence may be imposed–potentially
a punishment that avoids a permanent criminal record. Call the Kyle Law
Firm today to learn more about the sentencing process.