Criminal courts have a duty to sentence an individual to punishments that fall in line with the seriousness of the crime for which the person was convicted. There are many different factors that go into these decisions, and the judge must consider them all. If you’ve been convicted of a crime, you should understand what points might be utilized to determine what sentence you will face.
One of the first things that a judge must look at is the sentencing guidelines for the specific crime. Some crimes have mandatory minimum sentences that must be handed down. In other cases, judges have more discretion but there are usually sentence ranges and specific options that they can review.
Some other factors that are considered in these cases include:
- Any past criminal history, including previous convictions for the same crime
- Injuries that occurred to victims
- The mental state of the defendant
- The status of the defendant as the primary offender or an accessory
- Any remorse being shown about the crime
You have the right to make a statement prior to sentencing. You should discuss this with your attorney to find out if it is in your best interests to do so. It is also possible that the victims of specific crimes or their family members might opt to provide impact statements.
If you reasonably think that you’re going to be convicted of a crime, you need to think carefully about how you might tailor your defense strategy to address the potential sentencing options that you face. Your defense might focus solely on minimizing the penalties that you’ll receive.