What to Expect During Sentencing
No matter what criminal charges you might be facing, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed when thinking about the legal process. It’s important to have a good grasp of the different stages of the criminal justice process so that you can feel confident moving forward. This is where a skilled attorney can be a tremendous advantage.
For instance, during the sentencing portion of the process, our job as criminal defense attorneys is to make sure any factors that could work in our clients’ favor for a lighter sentence are put before the court for consideration.
At The Torres Law Firm, we use our extensive knowledge to represent clients charged with crimes in Corpus Christi, Dallas, Fort Worth, and the rest of Texas. Although there are certain guidelines judges follow when sentencing defendants, cases are handled one at a time and they all have differences. We’ll make sure you’re prepared by discussing these issues with you ahead of time so you’ll know what to expect.
When Does Sentencing Occur in Texas Criminal Cases?
Sentencing occurs after a defendant enters a guilty plea in a Texas criminal matter or is found guilty by a judge or jury at the conclusion of a criminal trial.
If the conviction is for a misdemeanor violation, the judge will often sentence the defendant upon entering the guilty plea or upon delivery of a guilty verdict. The penalties for misdemeanors are largely prescribed, although the judge does have discretion.
If the conviction is for a more serious felony, sentencing will typically occur at a later date. This leaves time for information gathering and review by the judge. You, your attorney, and the prosecuting attorney will provide input and recommendations to be considered before the judge hands down the sentence. In major felony convictions, there will be a penalty phase which is part of the trial process.
What Happens During Texas Sentencing?
The judge will review a presentence report created and submitted by a probation officer. The presentence report contains information such as the initial charges and those someone was convicted of, past criminal history, personal history such as any history of violence, substance abuse, physical and mental health, education, skills, employment, and current financial situation. The report will also enumerate sentencing options for the conviction and the impact of a plea agreement if other charges were dropped or reduced.
The prosecuting attorney will be allowed to recommend a sentence and provide the information upon which they based that recommendation. Your criminal defense attorney will be allowed to address the court about mitigating factors that could lead to leniency. You have the right to address the court as well.
Victims of the crime you are convicted of usually have the opportunity to address the court, telling the judge how the crime has affected them and their lives. In cases where the victim is no longer alive or capable of speaking, their family may deliver victim impact statements.
How Is the Sentence Determined?
The judge will consider all the information, from the presentence report to victim impact statements. The judge will examine your history, your role in the crime for which you have been convicted, factors that may have contributed to your commission of the crime—such as being under duress—any physical injuries you might have caused during the commission of the crime, and whether you are vindictive or remorseful regarding your actions.
Then, the judge will review the sentencing guidelines with respect to all other factors and deliver your sentence in court.
Understand Your Next Steps
At the end of a criminal conviction is a sentence. As you can see, what penalties you receive will be based on a wealth of information about you, your victims, and the crime you have been convicted of. You should know that when you stand up for the judge to deliver your sentence, your criminal defense attorney will be on your side, with your best interests in mind.
If you have been arrested for a crime, reach out to The Torres Attorneys in Corpus Christi, Texas. Let us help you face whatever the outcome may be.