Criminal Case Sentencing –
The final step in a criminal case is the imposition of sentence by the court. As a consequence, the sentencing hearing truly is a crucial and potentially life-altering phase in the overall criminal process. There are some essential facts that a criminal defendant must understand when heading into a sentencing hearing.
The Pre-Sentence Report
In cases involving felonies or more serious misdemeanors, the court is likely to direct that a pre-sentence report be prepared in advance of a sentencing hearing. This report typically suggests to the court what should be done in regard to the sentencing of a criminal defendant. Therefore, if the report contains a specific sentencing recommendation, the Court very well may follow that recommendation when sentencing the defendant.
The pre-sentence report evaluates a criminal defendant in a number of different ways. This type of report will include fairly detailed information about a defendant’s prior criminal history, employment history and family background. There will also be information about a defendant’s physical and mental health status as well as data regarding the use of mind-altering substances.
A defendant usually is interviewed by the individual preparing a pre-sentence report. The interview gives a defendant the opportunity to share information which might work to mitigate the severity of a sentence in a criminal case.
Off to Jail or Prison
A criminal defendant needs to be prepared to begin serving his or her jail or prison sentence immediately after the sentence is handed down in court. In other words, absent a specific agreement that the court is on board with before the sentencing hearing, it is likely that a criminal defendant will be taken to jail or prison to begin serving a sentence directly adter the sentencing hearing concludes. In other words, a criminal defendant must understand that it is very likely that he or she will not be going home.
There are exceptions to this practice. But, absent a clear understanding that the jail or prison sentence will not commence immediately after the sentencing hearing concludes, a defendant must be prepared to depart from society for the designated period of time directly.