Criminal cases that result in a conviction must go through the sentencing phase. During this phase, the court reviews the factors of the case and determines what punishment the person should face. Sentencing can be complicated, so it is imperative for anyone facing criminal charges to understand certain things.
The need for sentencing arises after a defendant pleads guilty without a plea deal, pleads guilty with a plea deal, or is found guilty in a trial. With the exception of defendants who make plea agreements, there can be plenty of uncertainty about what is going to happen next.
Types of sentences
Every sentence depends on the charge involved. In cases involving minimum sentences, which are set by law, the judge must abide by them, but they are only the bare minimum that a defendant will face. It is possible for the judge to add more terms if the situation warrants it. There are also mandatory sentences and maximum sentences for some crimes.
When there is more than one charge, the judge can order that the sentence for each one is served consecutively or concurrently. If they are served consecutively, this means that one is served after the other. If they are served concurrently, both sentences run at the same time.
Sometimes, a judge doesn't set an actual term for a sentence. Instead, they might set an indeterminate sentence. This is one that offers a range that depends on certain factors. These usually include the terms of "not more than" or "not less than."
Some sentencing components, such as imprisonment, may be suspended or deferred. Usually, incarceration that is deferred will begin later, while a term that is suspended will only be imposed if the person fails to meet the criteria of the court.
Factors of determination
Besides the state's statutes and sentencing guidelines, the judge has to consider the impact that the crime had on the victim, the state of mind of the defendant when the crime was committed, any previous criminal history and similar factors. They might also look at any remorse the person showed when they were discussing the crime. Other factors might be considered, so be sure to get answers from your attorney when you are developing a defense strategy.