What Should I Expect at Sentencing?

ben-white-194220-copy-300x200Being charged with a crime brings a lot of stress and worry with it. You never know what will come of your case, especially if it goes to trial. Should the case go to trial and you are convicted of the crime, you will then need to attend a sentencing hearing in front of the judge. This is an important hearing because you are learning your fate. You will find out how long you will be sentenced to jail, if any fines will be levied, and if you can avoid any jail time. Here is what you can expect at a sentencing hearing.

The Length of the Hearing

For the most part, the sentencing hearing will not take very long. This is a process that should only last a handful of minutes. All the judge needs to do is read through the pre-sentence report that was created by the probation office. The judge will then listen to arguments made by the criminal defense attorney, the prosecutor, and sometimes the defendant and/or family members of the victim.

The sentencing hearing could very well take a matter of minutes if the judge is simply putting a stamp on a deal agreed to previously. If there was no deal made during plea negotiations, the sentencing hearing could last close to an hour or longer since there will be arguments made by the prosecutor and defense attorney.

Arguments from Those in Attendance

There will be arguments made by multiple people in attendance before the judge issues the sentence for the defendant. These arguments are typically made to either defend or question the pre-sentencing report issued by the probation office, which the judge uses as a guideline for sentencing.

The prosecutor will speak and recap the reasons why everyone is in the courtroom. The defense attorney will speak out against the recommended sentencing and try one last time to paint the client in a good light. The defendant might be asked to speak about his or her situation and if the sentencing is for murder, the victim’s family will likely also speak.

The Victim Impact Statement

It has been mentioned before, so let’s take a better look at what the victim has to say during the sentencing hearing. This is what is known as the victim impact statement. The victim’s family members will speak to the judge in the hopes that the defendant will receive the toughest sentence possible. Most victims will talk about the impact the crime has had on their lives, how they have struggled emotionally to recover, and how their family has been financially affected by the loss or injury to their loved one. A victim impact statement will also be provided to the probation office so it can be included in the pre-sentence report.

Sentencing

After all the parties in attendance make their statements to the judge, he or she will then take everything into consideration before issuing a sentence. This includes the statements made, your behavior during the trial, the pre-sentence report provided by the probation office and the severity of the crime committed. The judge will issue a sentence that could include jail time, fines, probation and other penalties depending on the crime and the statements made during the hearing.

Are you facing criminal charges stemming from a violent crime or federal crime in Chicago? It is important to protect your rights and your freedom when charged with a crime by speaking with an experienced criminal defense attorney about your case. David Freidberg can explain the legal process to you and give you an honest review of the charges levied against you. Call the office at 312-560-7100 to schedule an appointment today.

(image courtesy of Ben White)