What’s the Process for a California Sentencing Hearing?

If you were convicted of an offense, whether by a plea or verdict, the court will determine the type of penalties to impose for your actions. The judge will tell you what the punishments are at what is called a sentencing hearing.

When Do Sentencing Hearings Take Place?

When the sentencing hearing happens depends on the specifics of your case. In some instances, the proceedings will occur within a couple of hours after the conviction. In others, it may be days before the judge decides on the penalties. In California, if you were found guilty of a misdemeanor, your sentencing hearing should take place between 6 hours and 5 days after the conviction. For felonies, the proceeding must be scheduled within 20 days of the conviction.

How Are Penalties Determined?

In California, judges cannot arbitrarily decide on a sentence. Certain laws have specific maximum jail terms and fines attached to them, which are also affected by the level of offense. For example, assault is a misdemeanor charge that could result in jail time of up to 6 months and a fine of up to $1,000. A felony conviction for statutory rape is punishable by up to 4 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines. Whatever punishments the judge imposes must adhere to sentencing guidelines.

What are Concurrent and Consecutive Sentences?

If you were convicted of two or more crimes, the judge might order you to serve your sentences concurrently or consecutively. A concurrent term means that, if you must serve 2 years of prison time for one offense and 3 years for the other, the time will overlap, and you will have a 3-year sentence. If the penalties run consecutively, one will happen after the other, and you will serve a total of 5 years.

What Might the Judge Consider When Deciding on a Sentence?

The judge’s sentencing decision could be affected by various factors. For example, mitigating circumstances – those that cast a favorable light upon you – could result in penalties that are on the minimum end of the guidelines. However, aggravating factors, such as lack of remorse, could tip the punishment scale more toward the maximum.

During the sentencing hearing, both you and the prosecutor can present your cases about the type of penalties that should be imposed. You have the right to legal representation, and your attorney can submit evidence and argue on your behalf for a fair sentence.

The prosecutor may bring witnesses or alleged victims to make statements during the sentencing hearing, but neither you nor your lawyer can cross-examine them.

Discuss Your Case with The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch

Being charged with and convicted of a crime can be a frightening experience. You might not be familiar with the process or know what to expect. Our attorney has over 18 years of legal experience and is familiar with the court system. When you hire our team, we will be with you every step of the way, providing sound legal guidance and answers to your questions.

For a free consultation, call us at (559) 484-2112 or contact us online.