What to Expect at Your Sentencing Hearing

After you post bail, the next step in the criminal process is to wait for your sentencing hearing, assuming your case was a misdemeanor and you intend to plead guilty or no contest.

The sentencing portion of your case will be very brief, especially if the judge is following a schedule that outlines sentencing guidelines for specific crimes. Your specific crime likely already has a set fine and probation, jail or community service time associated with it. However, even felony cases can have relatively quick sentencing hearings if the sentences are negotiated as part of a plea bargain.

There are some cases, however, in which sentencing is not brief, especially if the judge has the possibility of ordering long terms of imprisonment. In such a circumstance, the probation department will have a pre-sentence report prepared, and the prosecution and defense will have the opportunity to argue against or in favor of the recommendations issued by the probation officer, as well as the factual findings on which the officer based those recommendations.

Judges may take input from other parties

Judges will typically consider oral statements made by either party in court, as well as the information included in the pre-sentence report issued by the probation officer. The prosecutors, defense attorney, victims and defendant could all have the opportunity to speak at the sentencing hearing, depending on the type of case.

The prosecutor’s comments typically highlight aggravating factors in the crime or any past criminal behavior you have engaged in. The defense will usually make arguments pushing for lighter penalties and point out any factual errors contained in the pre-sentence report. You as the defendant also have the right to speak on your behalf before the judge hands down a sentence. You will spend some time working with your defense attorney on what you’ll say.

How victims get involved at the sentencing hearing

The victim now has the opportunity to play a larger role in the sentencing hearing and the overall criminal prosecution process than in the past. He or she will have the opportunity to give a statement in court to the judge during the sentencing hearing, discussing the impact the crime has had on his or her life and arguing for why the defendant should receive a harsher sentence.

You can expect to hear information about various physical, emotional or financial effects of the crime, including how it changed the victim’s everyday life, how the crime affected the victim’s relationships with his or her family and friends and the kinds of medical or psychological treatment the victim needed to obtain after the crime. Victims may also seek restitution or crime victim assistance funds.

For more information about what you can expect out of your sentencing hearing and the rest of the criminal process after you have posted bail, we encourage you to reach out to a bail bondsman in Angleton, TX, who can answer your questions. Get in touch with Brazoria County Bail Bonds today for more information—we look forward to assisting you.

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