One of the first things a person facing criminal charges wants to know is what type of sentence they will have to deal with if they’re convicted of the crimes. While many people hope they don’t have to deal with it, the question still comes up.
It isn’t always easy to determine a potential sentence because there are many factors the judge will consider. Other factors might also come into the picture, but these three are usually part of the sentencing process.
1: Sentencing guidelines
Criminal charges all have sentencing guidelines for the court to use. This helps to ensure sentencing is consistent for everyone facing the same charge. These sometimes include mandatory minimum sentences, which means the court can’t issue any sentence below that threshold. Many charges also have maximum allowable sentences to ensure the punishment fits the crime.
2: Prior criminal history
A person’s criminal history can impact the sentence. A person with previous convictions on the same charge will likely have more serious penalties than someone facing the charge for the first time.
3: Circumstances of the crime
The crime’s circumstances include whether the person was the primary person doing it or an accessory. The type of harm the victim suffered and the status of the victim can also affect the sentence. For example, a harsher punishment is usually present if an on-duty police officer is beaten than what would occur if a regular person was the victim.
Anyone facing a criminal case should understand what possible sentences they’re facing. This may help them determine what defense strategy they will use. Working with someone familiar with these matters may be beneficial because the defendant can draw from their knowledge.