What Can I Expect from a Criminal Sentencing in California?
If you have been charged with a crime in California, you may feel apprehensive, overwhelmed, and anxious. Facing the criminal justice system is difficult, especially if you have never been involved in a crime before. You may wonder what happens after you have been charged.
At the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, we can help you understand what steps you need to take after being charged with a crime and guide you through the entire process, including the sentencing hearing. To discuss your case in a free consultation, call our offices today at (805) 643-5555.
Understanding California Sentencing Laws
To understand what you can expect from sentencing in California, you need to know how the state’s sentencing laws work. In the State of California, there is a legal resource that allows judges to address the sentencing in any given circumstance. This legal resource is known as the Determinate Sentencing Law (DSL). The DSL has information related to crimes and mandatory sentences for specific crimes. Some offenses included in this guideline are streamlined and take little effort from the judge.
For instance, lesser offenses already have mandatory minimum sentences a judge need only follow when overseeing that type of case. More severe crimes often require the judge to take special consideration of the circumstances surrounding a particular case, such as a felony. However, if you are charged with a severe criminal offense, such as a first-degree felony, you may fall under a different category that includes indefinite sentences or life without parole. These types of penalties can be found in the Indeterminate Sentencing Law (ISL).
The time and extent of your case will depend on the specific nature of your charges. During this process, you will need the counsel of a skilled, knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can represent your rights and defend your freedom.
The Sentencing Process in California
During the sentencing process in California, the presiding judge will hear your case and pass judgment after you have either entered into a plea deal with prosecutors or are convicted for the crimes committed. However, this process is not automatic, and it requires you to go through legal procedures meant to guarantee your Constitutional rights. Furthermore, criminal prosecution must be exercised in a timely manner. In other words, the prosecutors cannot take as much time as they like to prosecute you.
For instance, in misdemeanor cases, your hearing must take place no less than 6 hours after you have pleaded guilty of the charges against you. The single most important thing during a sentencing process is to have an aggressive and experienced criminal defense lawyer at your side to fight the charges against you. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, you can have your charges dropped or your sentence reduced. However, this is something that can only be achieved by retaining the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
You may wonder how long your sentencing hearing might last. The answer to this question depends on how your hearing develops. However, many sentencing hearings last one or two hours. Nevertheless, if you are facing charges linked to a serious offense, such as a first-degree felony, the sentencing process may take longer.
How Sentencing Hearings Impact Imprisonment
Sentencing does not necessarily mean you will go to jail or prison. A judge can dictate different types of sentences that may not require imprisonment. For instance, a judge may sentence you to a suspended sentence. Suspended sentences happen when the judge rules but does not carry out a sentence. Instead, they may delay the sentence completely or impose certain conditions. A judge may suspend your sentence as long as you meet requirements such as avoiding criminal activity or enrolling in a substance abuse program, among other conditions.
Another common type of sentence a judge may impose is probation. While this type of sentence is available to lesser offenders, it can give you an opportunity to living in the wider community. However, like a suspended sentence, probations are tied to conditions and restrictions. As long as you keep your part of the bargain, you may be able to avoid jail time.
Another common type of sentence you may receive is a fine or restitution. These are sentences involving a payment penalty. As long as you pay the fine or penalty imposed by a judge, you can avoid spending time in jail. No matter the sentence, a criminal conviction can have dire consequences in your life. Make sure to retain the services of a skilled, dedicated, and experienced criminal defense lawyer.
Criminal Defense Attorneys Offering Free Consultations in California
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime in California, there is no time to waste. Our California criminal defense lawyers can help you fight your charges. At the Law Offices of Bamieh & De Smeth, PLC, we will work aggressively and strategically to defend your rights throughout the process, including at your sentencing hearing. To speak with a professional about your case in a free, confidential consultation, call our offices today at (805) 643-5555.