Sentencing is the first stage of most criminal cases after a conviction. In some cases, it is planned that, as part of a plea agreement, you will get to sentencing and continue fighting penalties at that stage. In other cases, you might have just been convicted and now you want a new lawyer to help you at sentencing.
Either way, the Baltimore attorney for sentencing representation at the Rice, Murtha & Psoras might be able to help fight to keep your sentence low and help you avoid jail time, depending on your charges and the severity of your case. For help with the sentencing stage of your case, call the Rice, Murtha & Psoras today to set up a free legal consultation. Our number is (410) 694-7291.
How Plea Deals Affect Sentencing in Baltimore Criminal Cases
If you are being charged with a crime, the best time to help fight your ultimate sentence is early in the case. If you are not convicted of the crime in the first place, there will be no sentence to pass down, so it is important to have a lawyer represent you and work to get charges dropped and dismissed. However, if the evidence is overwhelming, the next best way to keep your sentence low is often to work out a plea agreement with the prosecution.
Plea deals usually work like this: the government will make an offer that requires you to give up your right to trial, but in exchange, they will give you some benefit. In some cases, they might reduce the charges to a lower degree, e.g., from first degree assault to second degree assault – or to an alternative, lighter offense. In other cases, they will drop additional charges, e.g., they will drop theft charges and allow you to plea to receiving stolen property alone. Lastly, they might agree to recommend certain sentencing options, e.g., recommending probation instead of jail time.
If your lawyer can negotiate a plea deal with the prosecution, it is a signed, legally binding contract with the government that limits what the prosecution can do at sentencing. Ultimately, sentencing decisions are the judge’s choice, not the prosecution’s, but judges are usually willing to go with the prosecution’s sentencing recommendation unless there are special circumstances that might inspire the judge to issue harsher penalties anyway.
Sentencing Options in Baltimore
When you are convicted of a crime, the judge usually has a few different options for sentencing. As mentioned, the prosecution will usually be involved in requesting or recommending certain sentences. Without a plea deal in place, a prosecutor will often recommend the maximum sentence, but many prosecutors work to ensure that justice is done rather than to make sure that you spend a long time in jail, and they will request a sentence that is proportional to the crime. In any case, your lawyer can usually step in and argue for reduced sentences, and the judge will make the final decisions.
Typically, the law will authorize some or all of the following penalties for a crime:
Jail time or prison time will be authorized for many serious or violent offenses, and the judge usually has a range they can choose from in issuing your final sentence. There might be sentencing guidelines that help a judge decide how long to order incarceration for based on factors like your prior criminal history or “crime score,” the seriousness of the crime you committed, and additional factors like how much harm was caused, whether you were a leader or a follower in the group that committed the crime, and how cooperative you were with police.
Most criminal statutes allow a judge to set a fine. Again, this might have a range of values, which the judge will use to set the final value after looking at the specifics of your case. Fines do not include court fees and other expenses, which will usually be paid on top of the fine.
Restitution is money paid back to the victim or other people that had to spend money because of the crime. This could include medical expenses for a victim of violent crime, the cost of damaged or stolen property, or the cost of paying emergency responders like EMTs or police officers.
For many low-level crimes, you might be sentenced to perform community service to help give back to society rather than spending time in jail.
If your crime was serious, but not serious enough to warrant putting you in jail, the judge might sentence you to probation instead. This is a term of supervision where you are allowed to remain out of jail, but you will have to follow certain limitations. The terms of probation usually require you to check in with your probation officer, report your home address, allow searches of your person and property, submit to random or scheduled drug testing, remain in the State of Maryland, or wear an ankle monitor. Probation can be very restrictive, and any violations of the terms might send you straight to jail on a predetermined sentence.
Parole is not itself a sentence, but if you are sentenced to time in jail or prison, you might be released early for various reasons. When you are released early, you will usually be put on parole where you will be monitored and placed under certain restrictions like in probation cases.
Call Our Baltimore Sentencing Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If you were already convicted of a crime or you are trying to fight a case against you and need to look ahead to how sentencing will be handled, call the Baltimore attorney for sentencing representation at the Rice, Murtha & Psoras. Our criminal defense attorneys have experience handling the sentencing stages of criminal cases and might be able to fight for you to keep your sentence low and help keep you out of jail. For your free case consultation, call us today at (410) 694-7291.