People who are facing a criminal charge often wonder what type of sentence they’ll face if they’re convicted. While some opt to pursue a plea deal, others choose to make their case in a criminal trial.
If you’re going to pursue a trial, you should learn about some of the factors the court will consider when determining what sentence to hand down if you’re convicted. This may help you to determine what elements to use in a defense to try to minimize the penalties that you’ll face.
What factors does the court consider for sentencing?
There are many factors that the court will consider when trying to determine a sentence for a criminal charge. The first thing the judge needs to look at is the sentencing guideline for the charge at the center of the case. Besides that, they will also consider:
- The defendant’s prior criminal history, if there’s one, is considered, especially if they have previous convictions for the same charge
- The defendant’s remorse or sorrow surrounding the event at the center of the case
- Any personal duress or stress of the defendant when the crime was being committed
- The presence of injuries during the commission of the crime
- Extraordinary cruelty or vindictiveness
What types of sentences might the court order?
The court has many types of sentences available. The judge must ensure that the sentence they hand down isn’t cruel or unusual. It must fit the crime, so a life sentence for a first-offense drug possession charge wouldn’t be appropriate. Some of the possible options include:
- Incarceration in jail or prison
- Fines and court fees
- Community service
- Special programs like Drug Court
When you’re facing criminal charges, you must ensure that you plan your defense strategy based on the facts of the case. Considering the possible sentences might also be necessary, especially if you want to craft your defense to try to minimize the sentence you’ll have to face. It’s best to work on these early in the case so you aren’t trying to rush to get your defense figured out.