Sentencing Attorney Explains the Sentencing & Appeal Process: What Happens After I’ve Been Convicted of a Crime?
If you are convicted of a crime, your case is not over. The next step for the court is to determine your sentence. How you will be sentenced depends upon a number of factors involved in your case. Additionally, you have a right to appeal your conviction, and you should not hesitate to speak to an experienced sentencing attorney about exercising that right if you believe errors were made during the criminal justice process.
The sentencing process is one of the most important aspects of the criminal justice system. During sentencing, the court will decide your potential jail or prison sentence and impose penalties that could impact you for the rest of your life. That is why it is important to speak to an experienced sentencing and appeal attorney right away if you have been convicted of a crime.
The Appeals Process
If you believe legal errors or mistakes were made by the trial court during your case, you may have grounds to appeal your conviction. During the criminal appeals process, your skilled criminal appeals attorney will argue to a higher court that the trial court made errors during the criminal process in your case. A panel of judges will decide if they agree that mistakes were made that resulted in an unfair or unjust trial. If they find that errors were made by the trial court, the appellate court can reverse the lower court’s conviction.
A reversal of your conviction does not automatically mean you will be cleared of the charges against you. The case will be sent back to the lower court. Prosecutors may attempt to resolve the case by reaching a plea agreement with you, or they could choose to either request a new trial or drop the charges completely.
You should speak to our experienced criminal appeals attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately if you are considering appealing your conviction. You only have 30 days to file an appeal if you were convicted of a misdemeanor, and 60 days to file an appeal if you were convicted of a felony. The time to act is now.
Our attorneys have more than 35 years of experience successfully handling appeal matters. Do not give up on your case. Contact our criminal appeals law firm at (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation regarding your case.
The Sentencing Process
If you were convicted by a jury at trial court, your case will transition to the sentencing phase. The sentencing process is one of the most complicated areas of criminal law. In some cases, your sentence could be straightforward. However, in most cases, there are a lot of factors that judges must consider when determining your sentence.
How the sentencing process will work in your case is largely dependent on the type of crime you are convicted of. For infraction cases, the sentence is determined immediately. In misdemeanor cases, the sentence is determined no less than six hours and no more than five days after the verdict, unless you waive this right or the court extends it. The felony sentencing process is much more complex and can take several weeks.
Misdemeanor crimes typically carry six months or up to 364 days in county jail. Felony offenses generally allow judges to choose between three sentencing options for imprisonment. During the sentencing process, it will be up to a judge to consider all the factors involved in your case and make a decision as to which punishment fits the crime.
Why You Need an Attorney During the Sentencing Process
During the sentencing process, the probation department prepares a report and recommends to the court what the appropriate sentence should be. Both your criminal sentencing attorney and the prosecution are legally entitled to receive the probation department’s report several days prior to the sentencing hearing.
An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to carefully analyze the report and properly evaluate the best strategy moving forward with the sentencing process. In most felony cases, your criminal sentencing attorney will file a “Statement of Mitigation” that cites facts and circumstances to persuade the court to hand down a lighter sentence. At the same time, the prosecution will likely file a “Statement of Aggravation” arguing for a harsh sentence.
At the sentencing hearing, both your criminal defense lawyer and the prosecution will have the opportunity to present their arguments in court. The prosecution will present “aggravating factors,” namely any facts or circumstances that increase the severity or culpability of a criminal act. Aggravating factors may include:
- The fact that this is not your first offense
- You show a lack of remorse
- How much harm you caused the victim, and/or
- The fact that you committed crime in front of a child
Conversely, your criminal sentencing attorney will present “mitigating factors,” namely any facts or circumstances that lessen the severity or culpability of a criminal act. Mitigating factors may include:
- Your ability and willingness to reform
- Any mental health issues you have
- Whether you have an addiction to illegal substances or alcohol that contributed to your criminal behavior, and/or
- The fact that you have no prior criminal record
After each side argues its respective case, the judge will review the probation department’s report and all other documentation submitted by both the defense and prosecution. In addition, the judge will listen to statements by you and the victim(s) or victim’s representative(s). After a careful review of all the evidence, the judge will impose a sentence.
Our experienced sentencing attorneys at Wallin & Klarich may be able to help you obtain a favorable sentence by preparing an effective Statement of Mitigation and presenting an aggressive argument at your sentencing hearing.
If you are convicted of a crime, you will likely be required to pay restitution to the victim as part of your sentence. However, every criminal defendant has the right to a restitution hearing.
A restitution hearing grants you an opportunity to challenge the restitution itself or the items it covers. The court has the power to reduce or entirely eliminate the restitution in its sole and absolute discretion.
The court bases its determination on the “amount of loss claimed by the victim or victims, or any other showing to the court.” The victim(s) or the victim’s representative(s) present evidence to show that losses occurred and such losses were caused by your criminal act.
At a restitution hearing, the evidentiary standard is lower than that of criminal trials. Rather than having to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, restitution must be proved by a “preponderance of evidence.” In a restitution hearing, a “preponderance of evidence” means that there is a greater than 50 percent chance, based on all the reasonable evidence, that you caused damage that requires restitution.
If the victim makes a “prima facie” showing of economic losses, the burden shifts to your criminal sentencing attorney to disprove the claimed losses. An experienced criminal sentencing attorney may be able to disprove the losses by showing that the restitution recommendation in the probation report or in the victim’s estimates is inaccurate.
Appeal Your Sentence
It is also important to note that you may be able to appeal your sentence if you believe the penalties handed down by the judge in your sentencing hearing were unfair or unjust. You could have valid grounds to appeal your sentence if the judge made a mistake in applying the law to your case.
For instance, if a judge applied the wrong sentencing factors when determining your punishment, you may be able to win your appeal. A judge may impose a sentence that is not authorized by law or a sentence that is a significant departure from what a normal or similar sentence should be. This could result in your case being sent back to the sentencing court.
Winning an appeal of your sentence does not mean that you will no longer have to serve your sentence. You will have to go through sentencing again. You could wind up facing the same sentence, a lighter sentence, or a harsher sentence.
Like appealing a criminal conviction, you must act quickly to appeal your sentence. You have 60 days to file an appeal in a felony case, and 30 days to file an appeal for a misdemeanor case. Due to the restrictive time frame and the potentially significant impact of a successful appeal, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced criminal appeals attorney as soon as possible.
Speak to a Sentencing Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or someone you love has been convicted of a crime, you cannot afford to lose hope on your case. You need to act now. Contact a skilled and knowledgeable criminal appeals attorney to discuss the next steps in your case. You may have grounds for an appeal that could result in your conviction being overturned.
Additionally, you should not go to your sentencing hearing without the help of an experienced sentencing attorney. Hiring a sentencing attorney could make the difference between spending years in prison and serving a much lighter sentence.
Our skilled criminal appeals attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully helping clients navigate the complicated sentencing and appeals process for more than 35 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, our criminal appeal attorneys are available to help you no matter where you work or live.
Call our law firm at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation regarding your case. We will be there when you call.