What Happens At A Delaware Sentencing Hearing?
Whenever someone is convicted of a crime in Delaware, the next phase of the criminal case is sentencing by the judge in accordance with legal guidelines. The Delaware Department of Justice describes the sentencing process. With some cases, especially misdemeanors, the court will issue penalties immediately after the verdict is read and during the same proceeding. However, the range of punishment is considerable for some offenses, and the judge needs additional information to make a decision. Under the circumstances, the court will set a date for a sentencing hearing.
A solid strategy for the sentencing hearing is critical to ensure your punishment falls at the lower end on the scale of penalties. You have considerable leeway to present information that will convince the judge of your position, and you must take advantage of every possible opportunity. A Wilmington, DE criminal defense attorney will fight for your rights during the proceeding, but you should be aware of what will transpire.
Presentence Investigation: After being convicted for a misdemeanor or felony, the judge will refer to the sentencing that applies to the crime. In Delaware, penalties are presented in terms of a range of punishment; the statutory language in the statute may state “up to” or a “maximum of,” followed by the period of incarceration. The court needs guidance to make a decision within this range, which is where the presentence investigation enters the picture. The judge will appoint a presentence investigator to evaluate:
- The nature of the offense;
- A summary of the facts surrounding the crime;
- Your background and criminal history; and,
- Other factors that may be relevant to sentencing.
Participation from the Victim: Another aspect of the presentence investigation is allowing the victim of the offense to participate in decisions on punishment. The victim can provide a statement on losses, the impact upon his or her life, and other details that might be relevant for purposes of sentencing.
Sentencing Hearing: The presentence investigation takes place prior to your sentencing hearing, which will be scheduled for approximately 60 days after you were convicted. At this proceeding:
- The prosecutor will represent the government by presenting evidence and testimony to convince the judge to issue a particular sentence. The victim may be present and could be called to testify in court. The prosecution may also introduce information about aggravating factors.
- Your defense attorney has the opportunity to present evidence of mitigating factors, which may serve to persuade the judge to issue a lower sentence. Examples of mitigating circumstances include turning yourself in to police, cooperating with authorities, and having a clean criminal record prior to the current case.
A Delaware Criminal Defense Lawyer Will Assist with Sentencing Hearings
This information should convince you that your case is not over after being convicted of a crime, and the next steps are extremely important. To learn more about sentencing hearings, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica. Individuals in New Castle County can call 302.600.1262 or go online to set up a consultation. We can provide additional details after reviewing your circumstances.