People convicted of a crime are sentenced in the wake of their conviction. The court considers several factors when setting the terms of a sentence. The punishment for any wrongdoing is broadly “meant to fit the crime,” but not everyone convicted of a certain crime must be handed the same sentence.
One of the first things that a judge must consider is what sentencing guidelines are set for the charge. This is usually a range of sentences the judge should consider based on the type and severity of the crime in question. Judges typically have considerable leeway when issuing sentences, although this is not always the case.
Presence of a plea deal
Judges will consider the terms of a plea deal. They have the option to refuse the deal if they don’t feel the sentence recommendation is appropriate. Anyone considering a plea deal must understand that once they agree to the deal and the court approves it, they can’t appeal the sentence or conviction. If you’re ever facing this situation, you’ll have to balance the presence of a conviction on your record with the terms of the plea deal to determine if it’s one that’s in your best interests.
The criminal history of the offender is also considered. A judge is usually looks for previous convictions on the same or similar charges because most subsequent convictions come with enhanced penalties. They’ll also looking for patterns of criminal behavior.
Circumstances of the crime
Certain crimes will result in more serious punishments. For example, violent crimes or crimes against vulnerable individuals usually have enhanced penalties. Some crimes against police officers or other public servants will also result in more serious penalties.
Role of the person
The court will consider the exact role that a person has in the commission of the crime. Typically, the person who actually commits a crime will have a harsher punishment than accessories to the crime.
Ultimately, the sentence that an offender faces is up to the judge. Some defendants choose to build their defense strategy around trying to keep their sentence minimal. Seeking legal guidance can help those accused of criminal wrongdoing to make informed decisions in their best interests in this regard.