New Haven Criminal Sentencing

If you are going to be sentenced for a criminal charge, it is important to be knowledgeable about the process, as well as to retain an attorney. An attorney can help guide you through the process, ensure that you are able to make informed decisions regarding your case, and work with the court to get you a favorable sentence.

There are a few situations that can lead up to a sentencing.

Plea Deals

There are several types of plea deals, the first and the simplest is where the State attorney and counsel and the judge have worked out and agreed upon dispositions. The charges and the particular sentence are all setup and agreed upon. That is the simplest and the most basic. In addition to that, there is a situation referred to as a capped deal. In a cap type of situation, this is a plea bargain where the parties have reached an agreement as to a possible sentence. Typically, the charges would be agreed upon and the individual would enter a guilty plea and there would the actual sentence is not set in stone.

Right to Argue

They set the maximum penalty and the low penalty that could be anything from a period of incarceration or minimal jail time or even the possibility of no jail time at all on probation. This type of agreement – the actual sentence – is not imposed until the judge makes his ruling. Usually its six to eight weeks after the plea has been entered. This allows for the courts to obtain whats called the pre-sentence investigation and get further information about the defendant. When the plea is entered, the case continues, typically, for six to eight weeks. A pre-sentence investigation is completed and given to the State, the defense, and the court.

Cap Deal

The defense will return to court for a sentencing date and until that sentence date, when the court actually imposes a sentence, it can be anything up until the maximum penalty allowed under that cap deal or the complete floor and those terms associated with the cap deal can be changed and modified for each individual case. Its a very flexible option that allows for greater information to be provided to the court. And those cap situations are used in unique situations depending on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Maximum Penalty

The final type of case occurs after a trial where the defendant is faced with the maximum penalty allowed by law and this is the sentence that is imposed by the court. Again, in these types of cases, if the case involves a felony, the defendant is entitled to a pre-sentence investigation which does provide the court with more information about the defendant, and in that situation, the court imposes what it feels is the appropriate sentence up to the maximum allowed by law under statute.

Making Decisions

The determination as to the sentence is primarily in the hands of the judge. In fact, the only person who can impose a sentence is the judge in terms of the actual sentence that is left to the discretion of the judge, except in limited circumstances. These limited circumstances include when a defendant is charged with a crime which carries a mandatory minimum penalty.

The most common example of charges that carry mandatory minimum penalties are drug offenses, gun offenses and DUIs. In those situations, the judge is not allowed to impose a sentence of less than the mandatory minimum, except by statute. However, as long as the charge does not carry a mandatory minimum, then its solely in the discretion of the judge; if it does require mandatory minimum, that’s the absolute minimum that the court can impose.

Aggravating Factors

There are a number of factors that can make it more difficult for the defendant. For example, the seriousness of an assault case and the seriousness of the injured. If an individual is simply shoved to the ground and has some scrapes and bruises, then that’s very different than a case in which an individual has broken their jaw or has broken a bone. The aggravating factors in that typical case are the extent of the injury.

Every case is unique and driven by the facts, and in a drug case, it can be the amount of narcotics that the State is claiming assault, but if its a small amount, that certainly is not going to be as serious as a case involving a large amount of narcotics. Every case is unique, and the facts drive the case and the aggravating factors will depend upon each individual case.

Mitigating Factors

Typically, mitigating factors are what the defense present to the judge which will depend upon each individual defendant. What the defense will try to do is show the court, the prosecutor, and the judge that the defendant has undertaken steps to ensure that whatever the conduct is, it’s not going to occur in the future. They also try to show that the defendant is working, addressing the problems that created the case in the first place, and staying out of trouble on dependency of the case.

How an Attorney Can Help

The attorney can advocate during the sentencing phase of a case by presenting information in a clear and concise manner to the court by organizing the material. An attorney can also present the pre-sentencing package through work records, treatment records, restitution documentation and character reference. Attorneys can provide a complete picture of the defendant to the judge so the judge gets a sense of where they are coming from. By doing this, it puts them in the best possible position to obtain a favorable sentence.