Judge and lawyer in courtroom discussing the sentence for defendant

What to Expect During Sentencing

McCready Law Group April 5, 2023

According to the Crime in California report, there were about 857,599 and 183,546 total arrests statewide in 2021 for property and violence crimes, respectively. After an arrest, an alleged defendant must go through the criminal trial process to determine whether they’re guilty or innocent. Defendants found guilty at trial will be sentenced immediately or during a sentencing hearing. 

At McCready Law Group, I handle criminal cases and protect clients from the worst possible punishments. As a California criminal defense attorney, I can inform you about what to expect during sentencing and craft a solid defense strategy in pursuit of the most favorable outcome for your unique circumstances. I proudly represent clients throughout Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California. 

When Does Sentencing Occur?

A sentence is the legal consequence, penalty, or punishment imposed by a judge on a defendant after pleading guilty or no contest, or following a guilty verdict at trial. The court will sentence the defendant once they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense. 

In California, sentencing may occur immediately after the conviction or be scheduled for a later date. Generally, sentencing takes place straight away if there is an agreed-upon sentence by the defendant in a plea deal. Nonetheless, a person convicted of a misdemeanor offense must be sentenced within six (6) hours or, at most, 5 days after the guilty verdict. 

Additionally, sentencing for felony convictions must be scheduled within 20 days of the guilty verdict or plea. If another date is scheduled for the sentencing hearing, the judge may keep the defendant in jail or ask them to post bail. 

What Happens During Sentencing?

At the sentencing hearing, the judge will read the sentence terms and provisions into the record. Also, the defendant will have the right to be represented by an attorney, present evidence, and suggest an alternative sentence to the judge. 

Also, the judge may allow testimony from victims or their family members at the sentencing hearing. Depending on the applicable statutes and sentencing guidelines, the judge will determine whether to impose a minimum or maximum sentence on the defendant. 

How Is the Sentence Determined?

To determine the appropriate sentence, the judge will evaluate California’s sentencing guidelines for the crime under consideration. The judge will also consider mitigating or aggravating factors (for felony crimes), including the available evidence, the defendant’s criminal history, and the severity of the offense. With this, the judge can determine whether to impose the low-term, mid-term, or high-term. 

Generally, California judges exercise their discretion when determining the actual sentence to impose. However, to prevent abuse of discretion, the judge is required to state their reason for issuing such a particular sentence. While first-time offenders may likely receive a lighter sentence, habitual offenders will receive harsher penalties. 

Understand Your Next Steps  

Receiving a guilty verdict at a criminal trial doesn’t automatically mean the end of the road for you. Even at your sentencing hearing, having experienced representation is crucial to protect your rights and help you fight for a lenient penalty. At McCready Law Group, I have the knowledge and expertise to defend and represent clients at every stage of the criminal court process, including sentencing hearings. 

I will represent you diligently during the sentencing hearing, attempt to convince the judge that you have shown remorse, explore the possibility of alternative sentencing, or help you achieve a lighter or reduced punishment. 

If you need detailed guidance with a sentencing hearing, contact my firm at McCready Law Group today to arrange a simple case evaluation. I proudly serve clients throughout Long Beach, Cypress Hill, and Lakewood, California. 

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