The Letter of the Law

What Factors Affect Sentencing?

If you have been arrested, you need to understand what could happen with your sentencing. The punishment you end up with is the result of several factors the judge takes into consideration. To find out more, read on.

Speak to an Attorney

You will need a criminal defense attorney to help you with your case. Although being found innocent is the goal, it's also important to consider your options if you are found guilty. You might, for example, decide to plead guilty using a plea bargain. That will mean you are sentenced right away. Your attorney will do everything they can to positively affect your sentencing if you end up being convicted. The below issues will determine the sentence handed down if you are found guilty.

Criminal Record

Your record plays a huge role in your case. From the time you are arrested, and the issue of bail arises until you are sentenced, your record colors everything. First-time offenders, on the other hand, may get a break. There is nothing you can do about your past record, but things might be easier for you if your previous offenses were minor and not the same as your current offense.


When a person is harmed, the case takes on a different tone. Harm to others in the commission of a crime can cause sentencing to be a lot more stringent. Those accused of violent crimes may not be eligible for bail, for example, because the judge fears the defendant will be a danger to the community if released. The exact circumstances matter too. If a person was harmed accidentally, that will be taken into consideration. However, violent crime convictions, in general, often involve jail time for the offender.

Weapons Involved

Another aggravating factor is the presence of weapons. Holding up a store with or without a weapon are separate crimes, and the presence of a weapon is sure to rachet up the sentence. In many cases, even if you are unarmed but made the victim believe that you were armed, the effect is the same as if you were armed.

Personal Matters

When you know the alleged victim personally, it can make the crime seem so much worse to the judge. Crimes involving families, couples, co-workers, and neighbors can carry harsher sentences. The judge may view someone carrying out such a personal crime as being more depraved than when it's about strangers.

Your criminal defense lawyer will work to reduce the impact of all the above when it comes to your sentencing. Speak to a lawyer—such as Smart Criminal Lawyer—to find out more.