What factors can impact a criminal sentence?

What factors can impact a criminal sentence?

When a person realizes that they are likely going to be convicted of a crime, their thoughts might turn to what type of sentence they will face and whether they will end up being incarcerated or not. Because this is such a big part of the criminal justice process, anyone who’s facing charges should understand a few points about sentencing

The court must consider several factors when trying to set a sentence for any specific criminal conviction. Whether you eventually take a plea deal or are convicted at trial, the court will try to balance punishment with mercy in the interest of justice. Some of the factors that go into sentencing include:

Sentencing guidelines

There are specific sentencing guidelines that are set by the laws of the state. The court must comply with these when determining what a person will face upon conviction. This takes the severity and the type of crime into account. The judge has some discretion when applying the sentence guidelines to a case.

Any prior criminal history

Typically, a repeat offender will have harsher penalties than a person who hasn’t been in trouble with the law before. Enhanced penalties are often built into the sentencing guidelines for subsequent convictions of the same crime. For example, a second drunk driving conviction has harsher penalties than a first conviction.

Your remorse over the situation

The judge may also consider how remorseful the defendant is about the crime. A person who is indifferent about what happened may be missing a chance to have a little leniency from the court. 

The total impact of the crime

If someone got hurt as a result of your actions or you caused significant property damage, you may be treated more harshly than someone who caused no serious harm to either.

It’s imperative that you discuss the sentencing factors with your attorney if you’re facing criminal charges. This is a chance to determine if there’s anything you can do that might reduce the penalties that you’re going to have to deal with.