What to Expect During Sentencing
Facing criminal charges can be a stressful and overwhelming experience. One of the most consequential elements of criminal proceedings is sentencing, which determines the outcome of your case and what penalties you may face if found guilty. Knowing what to expect in terms of sentencing can help ease some of the anxiety associated with facing criminal charges.
At Madson Castello Law, our criminal defense attorneys in Dallas, Texas, offer personalized attention to every case we handle. We diligently work to protect our client’s best interests and obtain the best possible outcomes. In our more than 30 years of experience, we have developed professional relationships with law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors throughout North Texas, including Denton, Fort Worth, and McKinney. Set up a consultation with our team today.
When Does Sentencing Occur?
Sentencing typically occurs after a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty in court following a trial. This is because the purpose of sentencing is to determine the appropriate punishment for someone who has been convicted of a crime. The judge presiding over your case will decide on an appropriate sentence based on guidelines set out by state or federal laws.
If you are facing criminal charges, consider working with an experienced defense attorney to walk you through every step of the criminal justice process, including sentencing, and ensure that your rights and best interests are protected.
What Happens During Sentencing?
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, it is helpful to know what is typically involved in sentencing so that you can be prepared and make informed decisions about your case. However, it is not recommended to attempt to go through trial or sentencing alone. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your best interests every step of the way.
A sentencing hearing is a formal court proceeding in which the facts of a case and any mitigating or aggravating factors are presented by both the prosecution and defense for consideration by the judge before a sentence is imposed. During this hearing, the judge listens to information from both sides and then makes a decision on how to proceed with sentencing. The judge will consider various factors such as the nature of the offense, prior convictions, aggravating circumstances, mitigating circumstances, victim impact statements, and other relevant information related to both parties.
Victim Impact Statements
At some point during sentencing hearings, victims of a crime may be asked to provide victim impact statements (VIS). VIS allows victims to explain to the court how they were impacted by a crime and how their life has changed since it occurred. This statement will enable judges to gain insight into how crimes have affected victims emotionally, physically, and financially. It also allows them to better understand the effects of their decisions when deciding on appropriate punishments for defendants.
Once all of the evidence has been heard and considered, sentencing options can be presented by either party or suggested by the judge. Sentencing options may include jail time, probation, or community service/programs, depending on the severity of the offense and any other relevant factors that need to be taken into account. The judge will weigh all options carefully before making a decision on which option(s) are most appropriate in light of all circumstances surrounding the case at hand.
How Is the Sentence Determined?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, judges receive guidance and assistance from multiple sources when sentencing defendants.
The judge will consider several factors when determining your sentence, including the severity and type of crime committed and any aggravating or mitigating circumstances that may have been present during the commission of the crime (e.g., use of force or weapons). The judge will also consider any prior criminal history you may have had, as well as any rehabilitative measures taken since the time of your offense (e.g., addiction counseling). All of these factors may contribute to determining an appropriate sentence for your particular case.
How Long Does Sentencing Take?
Sentencing typically happens shortly after a plea or conviction. However, it can take weeks, depending on the complexity of your case and other factors, such as pending trials or motions filed by either side prior to sentencing. Additionally, some judges are known to wait until all evidence has been presented before rendering their decision so that they can make an informed judgment about how best to proceed with sentencing. This means that it could take longer than expected for a judge to deliver their verdict in certain cases.
Experienced Guidance Every Step of the Way
Facing criminal charges can be daunting, but understanding all aspects of the process—including sentencing—can help prepare you for what lies ahead in court. If you are facing criminal charges, contact Madson Castello Law for experienced legal guidance. Our attorneys have more than three decades of combined criminal law experience and have tried more than 300 criminal cases to a jury. Contact our office in Dallas, Texas, today to schedule a consultation.