Anyone who’s facing a criminal charge may wonder what will happen if they’re convicted. There’s not a way to know exactly what sentence will be handed down in a case. This is because there are many factors that come together to help a judge decide.
For most charges, there are sentencing guidelines in place that include a range of possible sentences for specific convictions. These are typically set by the state so there’s some measure of uniformity, but judges also have a lot of discretion when it comes to sentencing. They still have to respect the constitutional rights of defendants, including not imposing cruel or unusual punishments.
Common factors that apply in most cases
There are a few things that the judge will typically look at when trying to determine what sentence to impose after a conviction. These include:
- Whether the person has prior convictions on similar charges
- The role of the person in the crime
- Who was hurt and how they were hurt
- Whether the victim was in a group that gets special consideration
- Presence of duress or stress
- Remorse or sorrow shown by the defendant
- Statements by the victim or victim’s family
Remember, it’s possible for the judge to impose more than one type of sentence. For example, they may sentence a person to imprisonment and fines. Probation, community service and special programs like drug court might also be possible.
People who are facing criminal charges need to ensure they understand everything related to their defense. Working with someone who understands the charges, possible sentences and other points may help you to determine what to do with the defense strategy.