Criminal Sentence Modification

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What is Criminal Sentence Modification?

In a criminal case, the judge will prescribe the defendant a criminal sentence if they are found guilty.  However, many people don’t know that a criminal sentence can be modified well after the trial is done, even if the offender is already in jail.  This is known as “criminal sentence modification” and may actually be required in certain circumstances.  It typically results in a reduction of the criminal sentence.  

When is Sentence Modification Available?

A modification of a criminal sentence is only available in certain instances, not for all cases.  Sentence modification may be necessary when:

How Can a Criminal Sentence be Modified?

During trial, the defendant may request a sentence modification at any time during the sentencing portion of trial.  The defendant and their attorney will need to file a motion, and the judge will then conduct a hearing on the motion.  In most jurisdictions, if the initial sentence is greater than 3 years, the prosecutor must agree to have the motion reviewed.

Once the motion is under review, the defendant must demonstrate that there “new factors” in existence that would justify a criminal sentence modification.  “New factors” are facts or a set of facts that:

If the judge concludes that the new factors are in the defendant’s favor, they have discretion to modify the sentence accordingly.  This can result in the sentence being corrected, modified, or reduced depending on the facts of the case.  Or, the judge may prescribe alternative sentencing methods if the defendant is eligible (i.e., community service, house arrest, etc.).

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with a Criminal Sentence Modification?

Criminal sentence modification can occur for various reasons, and can even happen after the trial is over.  If you need legal assistance, it is to your advantage to hire a qualified criminal lawyer.  Your attorney can help determine whether criminal sentence modification is available for your case, and can help you file the proper motions and requests.

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Last Modified: 03-01-2016 01:18 PM PST

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