New York City Criminal Attorneys Explains “Sentencing”
SENTENCING occurs post-conviction and can be decided by either judge or jury. Essentially this is the “punishment” for your conviction in a crime. Some crimes have what is called “mandatory” sentencing, meaning that the judge is limited in leniency by statutes and regulations.
It’s a common misconception that juries rather than judges determine sentences for crimes. While this is usually true in capital punishment cases, it’s not true for other types of cases. Judges determine the punishment, or sentence, for a crime. After being convicted, or found guilty, of a crime, no matter how the conviction came about, the appropriate punishment is doled out by the judge. There are many different types of sentences that judges can impose upon you:
- Monetary retribution in the form of fines or restitution.
- Incarceration in jail for up to one year.
- Incarceration in prison for over one year.
- Probation, which is in essence, a suspended sentence that may be revoked if terms are violated.
- Community service.
- Work ethic camp.
- Drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
- Deferred Adjudication / Pretrial Diversion – these programs offer defendants a chance to avoid a criminal record.
Unless there are extenuating circumstances, sentencing comes almost immediately after a conviction when the infractions committed are not “serious” crimes or when the defendant enters a guilty plea. In criminal cases where the outcome weighs more heavily upon the convicted person and his/her victims, outside opinions will be taken into consideration before a sentence is handed down. The prosecution, defense and probation department will all have their say, and the probation department’s pre-sentence report is taken into consideration. Normally, a judge will consider the following factors before handing down a sentence:
- Criminal history or lack thereof.
- If the defendant was the perpetrator or an accessory.
- If the crime was committed under duress or extreme stress.
- Whether or not anyone was injured or put people at risk of being injured.
- Amount of cruelty, destruction, or vindictiveness the defendant showed towards the victim.
Sentencing guidelines are as strict as ever in new York
There are different types of sentences that can be handed down by the judge. They include:
- Concurrent sentences are ones that must be served simultaneously with another sentence.
- Consecutive sentences are ones where the defendant is convicted of several counts of a crime and the punishment must be served one sentence after another with no “breaks.”
- Deferred sentences are sentences that must be served at a later time.
- Determinate sentences are exact in their time frame and the entire sentence must be completed before released from prison or jail.
- Final sentencing concludes a criminal case, whereas interlocutory or interim sentencing is not.
- Indeterminate sentences are ones that end in the phrasing “not more than” or “not less than” a specific amount of time.
- Mandatory sentences are created by state law and give the judge no options for leniency. Every day of a mandatory sentence must be served.
- Maximum sentences are used in cases where cries were committed in the extreme. The sentence is the limit of how long a person can be held for a crime before the state is required to release that person.
- Minimum sentences are used to set the minimum amount of time a person must spend in prison before being released on parole.
- Presumptive sentences are those which specify an average time frame to be used as a basis for the amount of time one must spend behind bars.
- Flat sentences are ones without a minimum or maximum specified time frame.
- Suspended sentences are ones that are postponed after a conviction or it may be one that postpones a sentence until it has been pronounced.
Before a sentence is handed down, your defense attorney will have the chance to speak on behalf of the defendant or you have the opportunity to use your own voice. The prosecution also has the chance to speak. Be sure that your choice in defense attorneys is worthwhile. A good NY criminal lawyer will always have respect for his/her client and will fight for the best interests of the defendant.
In New York SENTENCING can be very harsh depending upon the crime and the circumstances. During election years when DA’s and Judges are looked upon to be “hard on crime” many individuals find themselves looking at sentences that simply do not represent the best interests of justice or society.