After a defendant has been convicted of a crime, a sentencing hearing will follow. The presiding judge examines legal sentencing guidelines for the relevant crimes. Prior to the hearing, the defendant can file a mitigation statement pleading for a shorter sentence. The statement should be clear about the people and business interests that will suffer in the absence of the defendant while the sentence is being served.

At the hearing, the prosecuting attorney will have a chance to present a case for a longer sentence, and the defense attorney will argue for a shorter sentence. Defendants who are remorseful and who have increased chances for rehabilitations may be assigned shorter sentences in some cases.

How Can I Get My Sentence Reduced?

Sentences are assigned based on a complex combination of factors, including the nature of the crime, the defendant’s existing criminal record, and legal sentencing guidelines. Lower level crimes such as misdemeanors are assigned shorter sentences than felonies. If a defendant believes that the assigned sentence is too severe, it is possible to appeal your sentence and request a reduction.

Laws for sentence appeals and reduction requests vary widely from state, but in every state, appeals must be filed within a specific period of time. In many states, the appeal must be filed within 30 days of the original sentence. The filing date means that the appeal must be in the hands of the court clerk by that date. 

Can I Appeal a Sentence Reduction Denial?

In many states, it is difficult or impossible to receive a sentence modification once the defendant has reached the correction facility. It is often in the best interest of the defendant for his or her attorney to file the appeal as soon as possible after the hearing.

Another option is to request a rehabilitation program instead of a criminal prison sentence. This option is most likely to be available to first time offenders. If a judge offers a shock treatment program as an alternative to incarceration, the defendant must spend a shorter amount of time, such as 30 to 90 days, in an environment similar to a boot camp. If the defendant passes the program, his or her sentence is commuted.

Finally, the judge can specify instructions for the defendant’s early release provided specific rehabilitation efforts are completed. It is important that these instructions be recorded in the sentencing minutes so they can be referred to later in case the corrections department isn’t made aware of them.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Every aspect of a criminal trial and sentencing procedure should be done under the oversight of a criminal defense lawyer. If a defendant is unhappy with the representation received during the trial, it is possible to hire a different attorney for representation during the sentencing processes.