A sentencing lawyer is crucial in this step of the criminal process. Sentencing is the process by which a judge determines the appropriate sentence, or outcome, for a person who has either pled guilty or been found guilty after a trial. Sentencing takes place at its own hearing, which may be held immediately after trial, or may be scheduled at a later date to afford counsel time to prepare their submissions. At a sentencing hearing, both Crown and defence have an opportunity to present their sentence recommendation and supporting arguments to the sentencing judge for his or her consideration. After hearing from both sides, the judge will render his or her final decision on sentence. Contact our office for a free 30 min consultation to discuss your rights.
The sentencing judge must consider a range of factors set out both by the Criminal Code and by the common law (judge-made law). These factors are numerous and are not a closed list, meaning that a sentencing judge can essentially consider anything he or she believes is relevant to determining a fit sentence. The key factor in sentencing is proportionality. The sentence rendered must not be too harsh or too lenient having considered all of the factors of the case.
Factors that tend to increase a sentence include the seriousness of the offence, negative impact on any victims, past criminal convictions, and a prevalence of the offence in the community. Factors that tend to decrease a sentence include the personal circumstances of offender (e.g. good character, history of employment), pleading guilty, an absence of a criminal record, expressions of remorse, undertaking rehabilitative steps, harsh bail conditions, excessive use of force by police, and presence of systemic racism against the population to which the offender belongs.
For most persons facing the criminal process, sentencing is their greatest concern and will have the greatest impact on their life. Sentencing is an art and requires thorough legal preparation for positive outcomes. Defence counsel typically marshal a range of information to put before the sentencing judge: case law about general sentencing principles, sentencing cases analogous to the accused person’s case, mitigating information such as character references, information about remand and bail conditions, etc. We highly recommend getting the advice of defence counsel when facing sentencing – this is likely the most important step in the criminal process.
If you have any questions, contact our offices now so we can help address you or your loved one’s legal jeopardy. We are available 24/7. We are forceful advocates and we ensure that our clients throughout Alberta are provided with the best defence possible.