Everyone makes mistakes, and you know this better than anyone as you’re led away in handcuffs. This is your first time being arrested, and it’s your first time having to defend yourself against allegations. You were driving recklessly, but now the police believe you’re intoxicated and want to charge you. While you don’t believe you were over the legal limit, at least some of the accusations were fair.
What can you do to defend yourself now? How can you make sure you don’t face penalties above and beyond what you should have to deal with? A good defense helps. Here are three things to consider about how your attorney helps with sentencing.
A judge considers your offense history
The first thing you should realize is that judges have a great deal of discretion when accepting plea deals or issuing sentences. The judge looks at numerous factors in your case to determine an appropriate penalty. The job of your attorney is to make a lesser sentence more appealing to the judge, so you face less time or no time in jail, lower fines and fees and generally less punishment for the crime committed.
Some things the judge considers include if you have a past criminal history, if you display remorse or regret for your actions, if you were being cruel or simply negligent and if you were under a great amount of stress or duress when you committed the criminal act. For instance, a drunk driver who has a history of getting behind the wheel and driving aggressively may face harsher penalties than a person who got drunk following the death of a loved one, depending on the circumstances.
There are sentence choices that the judge must make
Several sentencing possibilities exist including having a suspended sentence, paying fines, participating in community service, and being placed on probation, just to name a few. Your attorney’s job is to create a compelling argument for you to receive the lowest possible penalty for your actions, or, in some cases, none at all. Your attorney also speaks with the prosecutor and has the ability to negotiate and work toward a plea agreement.
Some laws require mandatory sentencing
It’s true that some laws do require a mandatory sentence. You will be informed if your case involves a mandatory sentence. Most of the time, first-offense crimes don’t have a minimum sentence, although there are some serious criminal acts that do require a minimum sentence due to their violent or serious nature. If the case does involve a mandatory minimum sentence, your attorney’s job is either to prove your innocence or to work toward a different charge. For instance, instead of murder charges, he or she may try to convince the court to go with a charge for manslaughter, which has lesser penalties.
With the right help, you can defend yourself against charges for a crime you committed. A one-time mistake shouldn’t shape your entire future.