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How Does Criminal Sentencing Work in California?

Posted in Criminal Defense,Sentencing on September 23, 2020

If you or somebody you care about has been arrested and charged with a crime, this is understandably a confusing and scary experience. Criminal cases can become even more terrifying for the defendant, particularly when prosecutors start throwing around large numbers when it comes to sentencing. Sentencing is often the most confusing part of a criminal matter. Here, we want to discuss types of sentences and what factors influence criminal sentencing.

Types of Sentences

There are various types of sentences for crimes in California. A number of different kinds of punishments could be imposed on those convicted of crimes, including:

  • Fines
  • Time in jail (shorter-term)
  • Time in prison (longer-term)
  • Probation
  • Suspended sentences
  • Community service
  • Drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Other classes
  • Death (in limited circumstances)

For minor infractions or misdemeanors, sentencing is usually handed down immediately after a conviction or when a defendant pleads guilty. For more complex criminal cases, such as those involving serious felonies, sentencing may not come until a later date at a separate court appearance.

Factors Influencing a Criminal Sentence

The severity of a sentence is typically determined by what type of charge a person faces. Most people are familiar with misdemeanors and felonies, where misdemeanor offenses typically are less serious and felony offenses are more serious.

Some of the factors that can influence criminal sentencing in California include the following:

  • The criminal history of the defendant
  • The nature and severity of the crime
  • The manner in which the crime was committed
  • The impact of the crime on the victim’s life
  • Whether anybody was injured as a result of the crime
  • The personal, economic, and social circumstances of the defendant
  • Whether the defendant expresses any regret or remorse for the incident

The sentencing phase in the criminal process will focus on various types of aggravating and mitigating circumstances surrounding the crime. Evidence presented in sentencing matters could appear in the form of testimony from the victim, the family members of the victim, testimony from the defendant, as well as character witnesses for the defendant.

Can you appeal a sentence?

A criminal defendant does have the option of appealing their conviction and their sentence. They may do so in order to receive a reduction in their sentence from a higher court. An appeal of the criminal sentence is not the same thing as retrying the evidence in the case. Appeals for a criminal sentence could be based on arguments such as:

  • Insufficient evidence to justify the sentence
  • Abuse of discretion by the court and sentencing
  • Incorrect application of the law by the court
  • Ineffective assistance of original council

If you or somebody you love is facing criminal charges, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Riverside criminal lawyer is going to stand by your side throughout your entire case. At the Law Offices of Graham Donath, APC, our lawyers will conduct a full investigation into the charges against you, attempt to get the charges reduced or dismissed, and work to ensure you receive favorable sentencing. Contact us for a free consultation or by calling as soon as possible.