Sentencing: Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
- in Laws
Being placed under arrest is a truly terrifying experience. It may seem like the end of your life, and it is tempting to fall into depression and despair. But there is still a chance to recover from the unfortunate circumstance that led to the arrest. The first step on this path is to secure your release from jail.
This can only be done by posting a bond. A bond is a sum of money or property given to the court in exchange for a release from pre-trial detention. Here is how the process works.
When you are arrested, you will be taken to a police station and processed. This will include the taking of fingerprints and various photographs. The authorities will also carry out a background check. Your bond hearing will then be set. You will then need to appear before a panel of judges who will dictate the amount of money you need to pay to post bond.
The first thing you need to do is contact a licensed and professional bail bondsman. You can also have someone do it on your behalf. The bail bondsman will need to gather information about you and the circumstances of your arrest. Using this information, the bondsman will draw up an application and contract. Once the paperwork has been filled out and the money transferred, the bondsman will go the jail and post bond. This can be done at any time of day all year round.
Why You Should Post Bond
Securing your release from jail is an important part of building your legal defense. You will be in a better position to communicate and coordinate with your attorney outside of jail. You will be able to take your time when going through the facts of the case. You can even go through the crime scene with your lawyer and straighten out important details.
If the Trial Does Not Go Your Way
You may have put up the best defense possible. However, the trial may still go against you. If you are convicted of the crime that you were charged with, the next phase of the trial is to sentence you.
The sentencing phase of the trial is nearly as important as the trial itself, as it will determine the course of your life in the coming years. Your legal team will need to put a great deal of work into getting you the lightest sentence possible given the circumstances.
Types of Aggravating Circumstances
If there were aggravating circumstances in the commission of the crime, the prosecutors will point them out. Aggravating circumstances harm your case for a lenient sentence. State and federal law often establish maximum and minimum penalties based on offense classification. If you have been found guilty of a felony, you must determine which offense classification it falls under and what the sentence guidelines require. In the event of aggravating circumstances, you will be given an aggravating sentence.
These are a few types of aggravating circumstances recognized in law:
1. Repeat offense
If you have multiple prior convictions for the same crime, the court may impose a harsher penalty. In states that have a “three strikes” law, you may be given a long prison term for even a minor offense if you have previous convictions.
2. Vulnerability of the victim
Violence against a child, a fraudulent scheme against the elderly, abuse of a mentally disabled person—these are just some of the many acts that can be considered an aggravating factor in your conviction.
3. Hate crime
In several states, there are laws that deem bias or animus against a racial, ethnic, or religious group an aggravating factor. In some states, crimes motivated by animus toward LGBTQ people are also considered hate crimes.
The best way to defeat an aggravating sentence is show mitigating circumstances. This can lead to a mitigating sentence. Although criminal statutes do not deal a great deal with mitigating circumstances, judges tend to take them into consideration before passing sentences.
Here are some of the factors that can lead to a mitigating sentence:
- Lack of a criminal record
- Minor role in the commission of the offense
- Your own personal history as a victim
- Mental or physical illness
- Genuine remorse