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What factors do judges take into account during sentencing?

If you are ever charged with a crime, your case may end up in court where you will stand trial. While a jury will determine your innocence or guilt, it is the judge that will have the final word regarding your sentence. Each criminal act has a prescribed range of potential punishments, but the judge will decide where he or she believes a specific criminal's punishment should fall within that prescribed range.

To determine the appropriate punishment for a crime, the judge could take the following factors into account:

  • If the offender treated the victim with exceptional cruelty, or if the offender was exceptionally vindictive or destructive in carrying out the act.
  • If the offender has similar convictions on his or her record or was a "first-time" offender.
  • If anyone was harmed during the commission of the crime, or if the crime was carried out in a manner that held minimal physical risks to potential victims.
  • If the offender was under great personal duress or stress during the commission of the crime.
  • If the offender was the main culprit or an accessory to the crime.

It is important to remember that when examining these factors, a judge is applying his or her subjective viewpoint and there is no way of knowing the final sentence until it is rendered. And this is why when your case goes to trial, you could benefit greatly from the representation of an experienced attorney. An attorney can work on your behalf to present your side of the story and help you get the best outcome possible.

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