After a defendant is convicted or pleads guilty to a crime, a judge will determine the appropriate punishment in the sentencing phase. While some sentences are mandatory, requiring a judge to impose specific and identical sentences to all violators of the law in question, others sentences are left up to the judge’s discretion within a range of possible incarceration and/or fines.
Typically, criminal laws will identify the punishment in a statute that may state that the crime is a misdemeanor, first offense, for example, with a possible sentencing range of no more than $1,000 and no more than six months in jail or both.
When weighing the appropriate punishment under these circumstances, a judge will likely look at several factors including a defendant’s past criminal record, the circumstances of the crime, the defendants age and whether the defendant expresses genuine remorse, which may result in minimal punishment up to the limits.
Mandatory sentencing statutes, on the other hand, might state that an offense is punishable by no less than 20 years in the state penitentiary, requiring a judge to sentence an offender to at least 20 years in prison.
Other than fines and incarceration, a judge could also make a restitution order, requiring an offender to compensate victims for economic losses. He or she could order an offender to forfeit personal property used to commit a crime.
A felony conviction may result in the loss of a professional or business license and prohibit a felon from holding office or voting and possessing firearms. Both a felony and misdemeanor conviction can subject an offender to enhanced scrutiny when trying to find a job.
Perhaps the most concerning for families who have had a young family member convicted of a crime is the looming possibility of a more severe punishment for a future crime when a criminal record is established.
If you have been charged with a crime, regardless of the severity, the best advice is to seek professional legal representation to seek a dismissal or reduction in charges to minimize the consequences now and in the future. Contact Waukesha, Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys of Andrew C Ladd for immediate assistance and a free consultation at 262-542-3900 if you or a family member has been charged with a crime.