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Understanding Criminal Trial Sentencing

Prior to the sentencing hearing a probation report is usually prepared which contains a recommendation to the judge on the appropriate sentence. Although the recommendation is not binding on the court, it is an important element.

If probation is not granted, there is usually a range of three prison terms in each felony crime (low term, mid term, and high term.) Lawyers argue about the proper term based on the facts of the particular case. The final decision is within the judge's broad discretion.

Jails are run by the counties within which they are located. Prisons are run by the state within which they are located. A sentence to a "rehabilitation center" is typically a drug treatment program within the state prison system.

A defendant may be sentenced to probation instead of prison. However, he may be ordered to do some local custody time as a term of probation. Formal probation is when an individual is supervised by a probation officer, while informal probation is unsupervised. As a condition to their probation, a person may be subject to drug testing. If a person violates probation, they may be sent to jail or prison.

Sentence modifications occur when a portion of a sentence becomes inapplicable to their case. Suppose a man is convicted of the crime of spousal abuse, and part of his sentence includes that he must stay away from his wife. If the man and the wife decide to reconcile, then it would be appropriate to ask the court to "modify" the sentence.

We have been quite successful at arranging jail alternatives. Some of these include: Detox programs, Electronic Home Monitoring, Residential Treatment Centers, counseling, weekend work programs, and community service.

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