In a criminal case, once your conviction is final, the court then decides the punishment. Prosecutor may offer you a plea deal in exchange for a lesser punishment. The courts decide a punishment according to the offense and the law governing it. There are various types of sentences you might get. More serious crimes usually result in long incarceration and a high amount of fines. You can request a pardon or commutation of punishment, too.
What are the types of sentences?
Criminal sentencing is of various types. Following are the famous types of sentences imposed-
- Consecutive. Courts may give you a consecutive imprisonment if your charges involve several offenses. Under this, you may serve prison time for one offense. Upon its competition, you may start another sentence. For example, for a conviction of theft and murder. One may serve two years in prison for theft. After two years, they may then serve ten years.
- Concurrent. Here, you might serve imprisonment against several offenses at the same time.
- Determinate and indeterminate. A determinate sentence is for a fixed time and doesn’t change. In contrast, an indeterminate imprisonment may not be fixed. You may see your punishment starting with “no more than” or “no less than.” Sentence is imposed in a range.
- Minimum and Maximum sentence. The minimum sentence means the least time you must serve in prison for an offense. It includes mandatory minimums such as “three-strikes laws.” In a maximum sentence, you may not be in prison beyond a certain period.
- Life imprisonment. Here you may serve prison for the rest of your life. It is usually imposed in serious crimes.
- Capital punishment. Capital punishment executes a person to death. It is rare and may involve very serious crimes.
- Supervised release. You may be released on parole or probation out in the community. But, you must follow some rules.
What is the sentencing procedure?
As per Rule 32 Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure. The court sets a sentencing hearing where your sentence is determined. After hearing, the judge issues a sentencing order. Judges have some discretion in sentencing.
Not everyone receives the same kind of punishment. People end up in prison for a very long time even though they haven’t received life imprisonment. For example, sometimes courts will impose 50 years of sentence against 50-year-olds. It is because they want to punish them for the commission of a severe crime. Also, consecutive sentences could increase prison time. For example, one could serve 400 years in prison. If they receive 100 years each of prison time for committing four crimes. One could end up in prison forever. But, it is practically impossible. If you think that your sentence is unfair, you have the right against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
How does a court decide sentencing?
Federal law has framed some factors that the court must follow. Each state has its own guidelines. They must consider the nature of the offense and the situation in which it occurred. They may also keep in mind your past crimes if any. When giving prison time, it should be fair and just. It must be to stop the further commission of a crime. The Sentencing Commission checks the punishments that the court issues.
If you or your loved one is convicted. You should know how sentencing works and its types. The punishment usually depends upon the offense and its intensity. But, you can request clemency and get your punishment reduced. Knowing about it will help you face the punishment.