If you have been charged with a criminal offense, you might be facing a jail sentence. In general, sentencing for misdemeanor and traffic cases will immediately follow a person’s trial after being found guilty. However, sentencing for felony cases will normally be set aside for a separate court date after the trial is completed. This is because, by law, the local probation office is supposed to complete a pre-sentencing report (“PSR”) to aid a judge in reaching an appropriate sentence in each felony case. PSRs include a comprehensive evaluation of a defendant’s relevant personal and criminal history, the circumstances of the committed offense, and a point calculation of the recommended punishment under Virginia’s sentencing guidelines. Most (but not all) felony charges are covered by sentencing guidelines, which give judges a recommended range of incarceration punishment. However, misdemeanor and traffic charges are not covered by guidelines.
Outside the context of a plea agreement with the prosecution that includes features that specify or limit the aspects of a criminal sentence, all sentencing decisions are ultimately made by the judge presiding over the trial that preceded the sentencing phase.
Read below to learn more about Prince William County criminal sentencing. And if you are facing charges, reach out to an accomplished defense lawyer today.
Typical aggravating factors that can impact criminal sentencing in Prince William County include:
There are many other case-specific examples of aggravating factors, some of which are explicitly defined by statute or in the applicable sentencing guidelines, which include things like the age of the victim, whether deadly weapons or substances were used in commission of the offense, and whether the accused was already under preexisting legal restraints at the time of commission such as on bond for another case, on probation, or under license suspension.
General mitigating factors that can impact sentencing include an accused who is young in age, a lack of prior criminal history, an otherwise commendable life as evidence by a good position of employment and/or compelling character reference letters, a genuine showing of remorse and/or rehabilitation by the accused before sentencing, and a lack of any notable safety risks or financial loss to parties involved in the case.
A seasoned defense lawyer knows how to highlight these mitigating factors to help a defendant get a lighter sentencing.
Sometimes the biggest impact an attorney can have is in the sentencing phase of a case rather than the guilt phase. Attorneys are trained to be familiar and creative with sentencing considerations in terms of anticipating what the prosecution will be presenting, and countering those presentations. It is especially imperative to be represented by a local attorney in many sentencing scenarios, since the particular views of the assigned prosecutor and judge will be crucial to know going into a sentencing phase. Attorneys are also beneficial at preparing for potential or anticipated sentencing disputes, such as pre-enrolling defendants into rehabilitative programs, and preparing defendants to testify or write letters to the judge in their own defense at sentencing.
Reach out to a dedicated lawyer today to learn more about Prince William County criminal sentencing and how a legal professional could help you.