What Can a Judge Do at Sentencing?

State and federal courts can not impose a random, arbitrary sentence out of thin air. Criminal statutes provide sentencing guidelines to serve as a baseline. These statutes will usually classify different criminal offenses and include scales of severity, along with suggested punishments.

Sometimes, the statute defining a given crime also provides a required minimum sentence. This is often the case for crimes committed against certain people, such as police officers.

A state’s sentencing guidelines provide that unless the criminal statute imposes a specific punishment, a judge has the discretion to determine the most appropriate sentence. This means they have room to get creative as long as they stay within a few general parameters.

State law requires judges to consider the following in sentencing: 1) The impact of the offense on the victim, 2) The need to change the offender’s behavior, 3) Rehabilitating the offender and 4) Providing restitution to the victim, the public, or both. Judges can tailor the conditions of someone’s sentence or probation to the crime itself. As long as the judge stays away from things deemed cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment, many conditions are fair game.

Judges can order an alternative sentence instead of jail time. They might require community service, a fine, or some combination. They can also issue a suspended sentence, where the judge orders jail time but allows the offender to serve it on probation. This is common in cases where they don’t view the offender as a threat to the community.A sentence can also be partially suspended. However, if the defendant does not comply with the terms of her sentence, she could end up behind bars for the full 180 days.

Criminal cases have a separate hearing for sentencing, where the defendant (or their attorney) can make their case to the judge for a certain sentence. The judge might ask questions to gauge whether the offender understands the impact their actions had on the victim or the community.

.If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.


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