How To Reduce Your Criminal Sentence

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A Judge or Jury Found Me Guilty - Now What?

After a judge or jury finds you guilty of a criminal offense you have been convicted, but there is still one more important stage to go through before your criminal matter is over. This final stage of your criminal proceeding is known as sentencing . Many states as well as the Federal government have something known as sentencing guidelines, but these are optional and the judge retains discretion to determine your sentence.

What Can I Do to Reduce My Sentence?

The majority of states allow convicted defendants to submit a document known as a statement in mitigation prior to the defendant’s sentencing. In this document the defendant will state all the things a judge should consider before a sentence is rendered. A few factors generally considered by a judge in mitigation are:

Can the Prosecutor Make My Sentence Worse?

Criminal penalties always have a maximum amount of time, but it is rare for the maximum sentence to be handed down. In most criminal prosecutions a plea bargain will be offered and if it is not accepted the prosecution will likely try to obtain a higher sentence.

Furthermore, the prosecution will file something known as a statement in aggravation which is the opposite of the statement of mitigation. If the prosecutor wishes they will submit this to the judge prior to your hearing to increase your sentence. A few factors generally considered by a judge in aggravation are.

Can My Offense or Sentencing be Reduced on Appeal?

If you are convinced of your innocence or that your matter was handled improperly you have a right to appeal the judge or juries' decision. A criminal offense can be overturned for several reasons such as:

You may also appeal your sentence and not the offense itself. If you choose not to challenge the verdict, but believe your sentence was improper you have a right to appeal the sentence.

Should I Get a Lawyer to Help With Sentencing?

If you don’t already have a lawyer helping you with sentencing your 6th amendment right is likely being violated and you should contact an attorney immediately. Having a lawyer that specializes in sentencing may keep you out of jail or significantly reduce your sentence, and you have a Constitutional right to an attorney during any sentencing proceedings.

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Last Modified: 03-11-2014 11:22 AM PDT

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