What Does a Court Consider During Criminal Sentencing?
Whether you have been convicted of a DUI, retail theft, or another criminal offense, it is natural to be very worried about your future. While you await sentencing, your biggest concern is likely what type of penalties you will face. No one can say without reviewing the facts of your case what those might entail, but there are some factors you can use to determine how long of a sentence, and what type, you may serve.
The Sentencing Guidelines
Judges in the Florida criminal justice system in Florida do have quite a bit of discretion when determining the sentence for someone convicted of a crime. However, there are still laws they must abide by when handing down a sentence. One of the first factors a Judge will consider when trying to determine a sentence is the sentencing guidelines of the State.
The Criminal Punishment Code outlines these guidelines. Essentially, they act as a starting point for a Judge when a sentence is being determined. Many crimes in Florida have minimum mandatory sentences, meaning a Judge cannot hand down a sentence that is lower than the minimum stated by state law.
For example, a first-offense DUI has no minimum mandatory sentence and so, many first offenders do not serve any jail time at all. On the other hand, a violent crime such as rape will have a minimum sentence. In the case of rape, that sentence is 7 and 3/4 of a year in prison and registering as a sex offender for two years. Again, the sentencing guidelines are just a starting point for a Judge, but they may take other factors into consideration as well.
Other Factors a Judge May Consider
The law recognizes that no two criminal cases are exactly alike. As such, the law does provide criminal law judges with significant discretion in certain cases. As long as the Judge complies with the minimum mandatory sentencing guidelines, they can also take other factors into consideration, which are as follows:
- Your criminal history: Being a repeat offender will almost definitely increase a criminal sentence. A judge may not only consider if you have a prior history of the same offense, but if you have other criminal offenses on your record, as well.
- Mitigating circumstances: Mitigating circumstances revolve around the facts of your case and whether they make the crime more serious. For example, a simple assault on a private citizen will not likely result in the more serious sentence you would face if you assaulted a police officer.
- Remorse: Judges are more likely to go easier on defendants who show true remorse for their actions. Judges know when someone only feels bad about getting caught, instead of feeling regret about what they did. Defendants who are able to show real remorse sometimes get lesser sentences.
Our Criminal Defense Lawyers in Orlando Can Help You Avoid Conviction
Even if the crime you are charged with is not very serious, a conviction will still come with lifelong consequences, such as a criminal record. At O’Mara Law Group, our Orlando criminal defense lawyers take all criminal charges very seriously and will defend against them aggressively to give you the best chance of beating them. Call us today at 407-634-6604 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation so we can review your case.