Criminal Procedures


What factors does a judge consider in determining sentencing?

Judges often consider so-called aggravating or mitigating factors in determining the sentence of a criminal defense. Aggravating factors are those which increase a sentence, while mitigating factors are those which may lessen a sentence. Typical aggravating factors include: whether the defendant is a repeat offender, whether the offense was violent, whether the defendant held public office and trust, whether the defendant’s victim was older, whether the defendant received compensation for the crime, whether the defendant selected his victim because of disability or race, whether the sentence is necessary to deter others from committing the same crime, and whether the defendant committed the crime as part of an organized gang.

Typical mitigating factors include that the defendant was not the leader of the offense and showed concern for the physical well-being for the victim, the defendant was much younger than the leader of the criminal conspiracy, the defendant was provoked by the victim, the defendant has compensated or will compensate the victim for the harm, the defendant is likely to respond to probationary treatment, and the willingness of the defendant to cooperate with law enforcement.


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