When you’re facing criminal charges, your primary concern might be finding out what types of sentences you might face if you’re convicted. There’s usually a range of sentences that are based on the type of criminal charge you’re facing.
It might help you to understand what types of factors go into sentencing because these can impact what happens if you accept a plea deal or are convicted at trial. These are often called “mitigating” factors (if they tend to make the court sympathetic to you) or “aggravating” factors (if they tend to increase penalties).
What factors might the court consider?
It’s up to the judge to determine what’s going to affect their sentencing decision if a person is convicted. Typically, these are the first things that judges will consider:
- Prior criminal history, particularly if it’s related to the current charge
- The individual’s status as a primary offender or an accessory in the crime
- Presence of injuries or property damage in the crime
- Personal stress or duress during the crime
- Status of the victim, particularly public servant, elderly, minor, or disabled status
- Expressions of sincere remorse by the defendant
It’s often possible to look at the circumstances of the case to determine what’s likely to happen. This information can be used to prepare for the court hearings and plan out a defense strategy.
One of the most important things you can do when you’re facing criminal charges is to find out how your defense might impact the sentence you’ll face. Understanding more about how mitigating and aggravating factors work can help you better participate in your own defense strategy.