One of the scariest parts of any criminal action is the fear surrounding what the potential punishment may be. Every defendant knows that their crime is often different from a crime committed by someone else, even if the two defendant's actual records reflect the same conviction. There could have been mitigating circumstances! There could have been life circumstances which may sway a judge to give them a lesser sentence! The Defendant could have been coerced into committing the crime! Thankfully, California is well aware of all of these possibilities and seeks to have every sentence reflect the seriousness of the particular offense.
In California, the law requires the preparation of a "probation report" in all cases in which a felony conviction is obtained. This report is prepared by the Probation office after an interview with the defendant, at which time the defendant can do a little more explaining. A defendant him- or herself, often through his or her attorney, can also prepare a "statement in mitigation," which is a more in-depth analysis of all of the relevant factors they hope the judge considers before handing down a sentence. The court should use this Presentencing Report and the Statement in Mitigation in determining the appropriate length of a prison sentence and in deciding whether probation is appropriate. The report can be helpful as it should contain factual findings by the probation officer including, but not limited to, the facts and circumstances of defendant’s crime, recommendations as to a grant of probation and its terms, and any other sentencing recommendations.
To help both probation and the defense focus their arguments, California Rule of Court 4.410(a) outlines list of general objectives for sentencing in California: protecting society, punishing the defendant, encouraging the defendant to lead a law abiding life in the future and deterring him or her from future offenses, deterring others from criminal conduct by demonstrating its consequences, preventing the defendant from committing new crimes by isolating him for a period of incarceration, securing restitution for the victims of the crime, and achieving uniformity in sentencing. Subsection (b) of that same rule provides that “Because in some instances these objectives may suggest inconsistent dispositions, the sentencing judge must consider which objectives are of primary importance in the particular case.” Also, California Rules of Court, Rule 4.414 lists several criteria the court can look to when deciding whether to grant probation. These criteria include facts related to the crime, and facts related to the defendant.
So which factors matter enough to have been expectedly listed in the law?
Factors relating to the crime include that:
Factors relating to the defendant include that:
If you would like to speak to an attorney ready, willing and able to help you put the best possible spin on your case, get ahold of Devina Douglas.
Devina strives to make information relevant to the lives of her clients easily accessible.