Monday, 16 August 2010

Is There A Book Of Prescribed Punishment?

There is no specific book of punishment, as sentencing is
based on a variety of factors. Regardless of what crime is
committed a criminal lawyer, DUI lawyer or a felony lawyer
can provide the client with an average punishment for the
situation, but the final judgment is determined by the
court.

In most instances, it is the judge and not the jury who
determines sentencing. The court cautions elected jurors not
to factor possible sentencing when attempting to determine
the guilt or innocence of an individual. Certain states
require juries to be involved in the sentencing process, but
only in rare circumstances, which include advising whether a
defendant should receive the death penalty over life
imprisonment.

A crime is committed when a specific law has been broken and
many times each law or statute provides a guideline for
penalties according to each behavior. A first time offender
may be subject to a monetary fine, imprisonment or both,
which is not to exceed a specific amount. The judge then
determines the final penalty. Statutes may define behaviors
without delegating punishment so courts will decide the
punishment based on the type of behavior in general.

Public complaints of leniency have influenced Congress to
ensure justice when certain laws are broken. "Mandatory
sentencing" applies when federal crimes are committed and,
in certain instances, when a state law is violated. Under
these circumstances, judges are required to hand down
predetermined punishment for anyone who breaks these
specific laws. An automatic and specific punishment is
assigned to the breaking of that law regardless of who
committed the crime.

Generally, courts expect judges to evaluate a number of
facts surrounding the case before determining final
punishment. A person's age, criminal history, social and
work history in addition to what prompted the individual to
break the law and whether he or she regrets the action, are
issues taken into consideration. In these situations, the
punishment is determined based on the offender and not the
law that was broken.

In cases where the judge renders punishment, the defense
attorney presents "mitigating circumstances" or facts
pertaining to the particular situation, to influence the
judge to consider a milder punishment. For instance, it
might be taken into consideration that the offender has a
minor or no previous criminal history. Perhaps the defendant
did not play a key role in the crime, but was assisting
another person. Maybe the person was experiencing a great
amount of stress when the crime was committed, for example,
job loss, bills piling up and a family illness. Or perhaps
the crime did not cause injury or would not have resulted in
the injury of any person.

On the other hand, "aggravating circumstances" influence a
judge to deal severely with an offender. An individual who
commits the same crime repeatedly is likely to receive a
harsher punishment. How a crime was committed is another
aggravating circumstance. An offender who was intentionally
cruel or malicious will receive a sentence based upon that
behavior. Occasionally, laws carry defining circumstances
detailing what is considered aggravating, which include
using a weapon to commit a crime.

About the Author:

Nick Messe is president of Lead Frog LLC. If you need the
help of an exceptionally experienced and dedicated attorney
contact Steven Louth for a free case evaluation -
http://www.stevenlouth.com/evaluation.html - Steven Louth is
a Boulder criminal lawyer who only practices criminal defense
law - http://www.stevenlouth.com