Case By Case: 3 Determining Factors in Sentencing
One of the basic principles of law regarding crime and punishment is that punishment should fit the crime. Most state legislatures have structured sentencing guidelines with this in mind. Additionally, there are federal guidelines as well that apply when determining what crimes should carry significant prison sentences, all based on this suitable fit principle. The problem for many defendants is that they often get charged with more serious crimes than they actually commit, meaning that even a plea bargain for a low-level felony can result in an extended period in jail in some instances based on potential reasonable doubt. Here is a look at what the courts evaluate when determining an appropriate punishment following a conviction or when offering a plea bargain.
One of the most important aspects of determining sentencing is what actually happened during the commission of the crime. Even a murder case can have its weaknesses. The level of intent and premeditation can be important. Additionally, racketeering can be an issue that enhances punishment as well when multiple individuals have colluded to commit a series of crimes, such as a drug trafficking ring.
Prior Criminal History
Depending on the particular type of crime, courts often look at the individual record of the convicted defendant. Some crimes such as driving under the influence have mandatory punishment requirements for multiple offenses, but even when there are no mandatory requirements the court will take this into consideration when determining the appropriate punishment.
Danger to the Community
Another factor in sentencing convicted defendants for very serious crimes is whether the defendant is a danger to the community. This commonly applies in certain cases like sex offenses against children, but the same concern can be applied when defendants have been charged with multiple murders or have a long history of criminal activity throughout their life. There are many convicted criminals in Pennsylvania penitentiaries who made a career out of criminal behavior only to land in jail for decades.
Why to Retain the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Philadelphia
The potential for a long sentence is real when a defendant has committed a serious offense, but reasonable doubt is still the standard when the case is adjudicated. And the charge may very well not fit the actual crime when being “overcharged” by the prosecution. There can be a life-long impact for a criminal conviction, which is why it is vital to always defend any criminal charge strongly with an experienced and aggressive Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer from Brennan Law Offices.