What to Expect During Sentencing
Every year, thousands of Columbus residents are charged with a crime. According to statistics by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Columbus has the second-highest number of violent crimes in Ohio. However, not everyone who gets arrested and charged with a crime goes to jail or prison. The appropriate punishment is determined during the sentencing hearing.
It is imperative that you have a complete understanding of the criminal justice process to know what to expect from the day of your arrest all the way to your sentencing. The criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC can provide you with personalized and aggressive representation to guide you through each stage of the process, including sentencing. The law firm provides defense representation in Columbus, Ohio, and Dublin, Hillard, Westerville, Delaware County, Licking County, Lewis Center, Gahanna, and other parts of the state.
When Does Sentencing Occur?
If the defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty at a trial, there will typically be a separate hearing for sentencing. The time between arraignment and the sentencing hearing may vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the case and the court’s schedule. However, a sentencing hearing may also be held immediately after the guilty plea or verdict at trial.
In cases where sentencing does not occur immediately, the judge has the authority to choose between:
Keeping the defendant in jail.
Ordering the defendant into custody.
Offering the defendant an option to post bail.
You might want to retain legal counsel early on in the process to fight to get the charges against you dismissed or fight for a more lenient sentence.
What Happens During Sentencing?
During sentencing, the defendant’s guilt is no longer discussed by the prosecution and the defense. The purpose of the sentencing hearing, as the name implies, is to determine the appropriate punishment (sentence) for the defendant.
During the hearing, the prosecution will make sentencing recommendations based on the evidence presented at trial to argue for an increased sentence due to aggravating factors. After the prosecution makes its statements, it will be the defense attorney’s turn to talk and argue for a reduced sentence due to mitigating factors (e.g., the lack of previous convictions on the defendant’s criminal record). Toward the end of the hearing, the defendant will have a chance to address the judge and make their statements.
Based on the statements provided by the prosecution, the defense, and the defendant, the judge will decide on the appropriate sentence, which may include incarceration, probation, community service, and other forms of punishment.
How Is the Sentence Determined?
Many people do not understand what goes into determining the punishment during the sentencing hearing. The judge will consider an array of factors when determining the sentence, including:
The type and severity of the crime committed.
The defendant’s mental state during the commission of the crime.
Any aggravating factors.
Any mitigating factors.
Whether anyone got hurt during the commission of the crime.
The defendant’s criminal history.
Whether any weapons were used in the commission of the crime.
Whether the defendant has taken any rehabilitative measures after committing the crime (e.g., alcohol or drug treatment).
These and other factors can affect the determination of the appropriate sentence. In addition, Ohio laws require mandatory minimum sentences for many felony offenses, which is why the judge will also consider the applicable statutes and sentencing guidelines.
For certain first- and second-degree felonies, Ohio law requires indefinite sentencing unless the offense is subject to life in prison. In other words, it means that the judge will select a minimum sentence from the range of penalties specified in the statute and then determine the maximum sentence term by adding 50% of the minimum term.
Understand Your Next Steps
Sentencing can have a major impact on your life. Your freedom and future are on the line at a sentencing hearing, which is why it is crucial that you prepare accordingly. You might want to retain legal counsel as early in the process as possible to fight back against the charges. Contact Wolfe & Mote Law Group, LLC to discuss your next steps and work toward achieving the most favorable outcome possible.