Wednesday, February 15, 2017


Finding the appropriate sentencing guideline range is one of the most important factors in sentencing since judges and prosecutors use the guidelines as a base point for sentencing. When the sentencing guidelines call for prison time it's very important for to find the best ways to avoid the implications of the guideline range so the judge has better sentencing options. Within the state and federal sentencing guidelines systems prosecutors often have far more power than judges in determining the final outcome of sentencing so judges must be stopped from giving prosecutors preference in sentencing to achieve the best results for defendants.

Weighing the real costs of prison.
Vermeer, Woman Holding a Balance
The most important factor in sentencing other than the application of the sentencing guidelines is persuading the judge who may be human that you're a person and not just a case number and that just maybe you're a human too. Let's face it judges see the worst of humanity in their courtrooms every day. Imagine spending hour after hour listening to lawyers constantly arguing and belittling each other. It'd make anyone less inclined to be sympathetic. And it would be difficult to actually listen for mitigating factors in sentencing thru the fog of arguments.

Ultimately the goal of the process for some judges seems to be simply to harshly punish rather than to find the best remedy for whatever caused the criminal allegation in the first place. For a defense lawyer the driving force of presentations to the judge should be to read the judge's mind to find the best arguments for a non-prison sentence of probation, house arrest or work release. For most cases within the criminal justice system a prison only ruins the lives of the offender and his family and does nothing to help rehabilitate him. Is jail really necessary for a drug crime such as possession of cocaine or for a crime against property such as grand theft? What are the real costs of sending someone to prison?

Does the judge consider that the defendant will lose his job? Does the judge know that the family will lose their home? Does the judge understand that the children will no longer have a parent? Therefore it's necessary for the criminal defense attorney to touch the very heart of the sentencing judge so that he fully comprehends all of the dire consequences a sentence of prison will mean in balancing for a fair decision. So often in criminal law we see the results of a harsh sentencing is far worse than the very crime being answered.

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