Alfred Fargione

Various sentence types are possible in criminal cases

When you make the decision to go through a criminal trial instead of taking advantage of other options, you have to think about various aspects of your case. One thing to remember is that if you are convicted, you will go through the sentencing phase. Even if you hope this isn't what happens, it must still be on your mind as you work on your defense strategy.

There are a few sentence types that you need to know before you head to the hearing that will set this. You can't assume that you are going to get a specific sentence since there are many variables that come into the picture when the judge is deciding how to handle the matter.

A mandatory sentence is one that the judge can't deviate from. This is usually associated with a minimum amount of time you will have to serve. It is possible for the judge to issue a longer sentence, but they can't go below the minimum. There are sometimes maximum limits that are set to ensure people aren't spending more time than what's reasonable for a specific charge.

Judges must decide whether to run a sentence consecutively or concurrently. Concurrent sentencing means to have two or more sentences run at the same time as the others. Consecutive sentencing means one sentence won't start until the prior one has finished. For example, consecutive sentencing would mean a person who has two 10-year sentences could serve a total of 20 years. If the sentences were concurrent, the person would serve a total of 10 years since they run at the same time.

A suspended sentence is one that won't start unless the person doesn't comply with the terms set by the court. In some cases, a suspended sentence can mean that it isn't going to begin until a specific date.

There are sometimes alternative sentences the court can use. These include probation, community service, special courts like drug court and other programs. Be sure that you think carefully about these if you are interested in them. You might be able to set your defense strategy based on these sentence options.

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Alfred Fargione
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