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What factors does a judge consider for sentencing?

After a criminal conviction, the judge has the final say in what will happen to you. The sentencing phase of the legal process has a lot of rules, though.

A judge must follow sentencing guidelines and adhere to the general criminal sentencing principles when deciding what will happen to you.

General criminal sentencing principles

The sentencing guidelines are intended to help judges to choose sentences that will properly protect the public, punish the convicted individual and provide for rehabilitation if possible. The goal is to use the most minimal sentencing.

When choosing a sentence, a judge should consider the offense’s seriousness and the convicted individual’s history. The judge also needs to think about rehabilitation potential and the likelihood of the person to re-offend.

Examples of considerations in sentencing

The Criminal Sentencing Commission provides some general guidelines for certain situations. When the crime is one of a more serious nature, for example, the guidelines suggest the judge considers factors such as the extent of injuries to the victim, whether the convicted individual had some authority or power over the victim and the existence of racism or other discrimination.

The sentencing guidelines concerning rehabilitation include considering factors such as whether the convicted individual was out on bail at the time of the crime, if the person has had previous criminal convictions, if the convicted individual shows remorse for his or her actions and if the circumstances of the crime would be likely to happen again.

Sentencing for a criminal conviction is not an easy task. Judges have to consider many factors, which is why there are often major differences in sentences for the same crime.