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Criminal defense can include factors used for sentencing

Once you are convicted of a criminal charge, you will have to face the sentencing portion of the case. This usually takes place shortly after the conviction in minor cases, such as misdemeanors. In some felony cases, there might be another hearing at which the sentencing takes places.

There are several things that are considered when you are sentenced for a conviction. These include your criminal history, whether the crime involved another person under duress or not, whether you were the main participant or an accomplice, any injuries, any cruelty, and your remorse for your actions.

The judge will usually consider the prosecution's recommendation for a sentence. Any character witnesses you call on your behalf, and the probation department's pre-sentence report are all usually considered while the judge is determining the sentence.

In most cases, the judge has a wide range of penalties from which to choose. There are some exceptions to this, such as when there is a mandatory minimum sentence. It is important to understand these guidelines before your sentencing hearing since they can have a big impact on what penalties you are going to face.

Typically, the judge can sentence you to pay fines, serve time in prison, or spend time on probation. Community service is another option that is sometimes used.

If you don't understand the possible sentences that you face for a criminal act, you should find out this information as soon as possible. Having your questions answered in advance regarding sentencing and what factors influence it could help you to plan your defense before you take your case to trial.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Sentencing," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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