A person who’s been convicted of a criminal charge will have to go through the sentencing phase. This is when the court passes their sentence, or punishment. Sentencing can include a variety of options, including incarceration, fines, probation and more.
Sentences are dictated by the jurisdiction’s laws. These can vary considerably, however, within a specific framework. For example, a nonviolent Class 3 felony in Colorado can result in as many as twelve years in prison — or as few as 4. That’s a big difference.
What can affect a criminal sentence?
Many sentencing laws have a range of punishments for the judge to hand down. The judge must ensure that the sentence that’s ordered isn’t too light or too harsh. They will consider several mitigating and aggravating factors when determining a sentence. These include:
- The criminal history of the defendant, including previous convictions of the same charge
- Any injuries that occurred when the crime was committed
- Remorse that the defendant shows
- Cruel, vindictive or extremely destructive behaviors by the defendant
- Status of the victim, such as if they’re disabled, elderly, a child, or a public servant
- Status of the defendant as an accessory or the main person doing the crime
If you’re facing criminal charges, you should discuss your defense options with your attorney. For some individuals, setting up a defense strategy based on trying to minimize the sentence they’ll face is the most practical option based on the specifics of their case. This isn’t an easy undertaking, so be sure that you work with someone who’s familiar with the state’s laws, as well as with the court in which your case is being handled.