Facing criminal charges means your future is uncertain. You may not know what to expect tomorrow let alone what may happen when your trial is over. In Pennsylvania, you have several disadvantages to consider when building your defense strategy. For example, mandatory minimums and other factors may make you think twice before entering a plea of guilty.
If the charges prosecutors filed against you carry penalties that include jail or prison, you know what this can do to your life. Your family, your job and your future may all suffer in your absence. This is why it is important that you understand how criminal sentencing works so you can assist your attorney in preparing a strong defense against the charges.
In the event that the verdict does not go your way, you may hear your sentence immediately. However, if the offense of which you stand accused is more severe, such as a violent crime, the judge may consider recommendations from both sides. Some factors that may influence the sentencing of your case include the following:
- Whether this is your first offense or you have previous convictions
- If you felt pressured into participating in the criminal act
- The role you played in the crime, such as acting as the main offender or as an accessory
- If someone suffered injuries during the crime
- If the court determines you acted with excess cruelty or violence
- The amount of remorse you display for your part in the crime
You may be fortunate to receive a suspended sentence or probation, which means you can serve your sentence at home instead of jail. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is among many states that have mandatory sentences for certain crimes. If a court convicts you of such a crime, the judge may have few options for leniency. This may also be true if you are facing federal charges.
Additionally, if you already have two felony convictions and at least one of them is a violent crime, you may be subject to the Three Strikes law. This law requires the court to sentence you to 25 years to life in prison for a third felony conviction.
Your future is on the line
There is no question that the stakes are high, especially if you are charged with a violent crime or other felony. You will certainly want every possible advantage to avoid the severe penalties you may face. Having legal representation through every phase of the criminal process can be a key element of your defense strategy.