As we discussed in the Client Guide for Court Appearances, after you enter a plea, the final step in the court process is sentencing. A sentence is the penalty given to a person convicted of a crime, and it is ordered by the judge. Whether you are proceeding to sentencing immediately after entering a plea or if you set-over sentencing and are returning later, the process for this hearing is the same. When you make an arrangement with the prosecution, sentencing is often brief as the attorneys explain to the court that you have a plea deal. Ultimately, the court wants to see matters resolve. If both sides are able to come to a reasonable agreement, 99% of the time the court will go along with what we call a “negotiated disposition.” If you have not reached a full resolution with the prosecutor, then your sentence will be up to the court. The court will listen to the prosecutor make recommendations on what they think your sentence should be. Your attorney will be asking for what they believe is a fair sentence or what you and your attorney have decided ahead of time that you are comfortable accepting as a sanction.
Do I have to speak on my own behalf?
After your attorney is done, the court will always ask you if you wish to say something. 90% of defendants choose not to say something – this is what judges expect so there’s nothing wrong with taking that route. Should you choose to say something, this is the time to “take responsibility” for your actions and not complain about the police, prosecution, process, etc. It can be a time to explain reasons for your actions if reasonable ones exist.
It really is a time to talk about all that you’ve done to rectify the issues that brought you before the court – treatment or other things we call “mitigation” is what to talk about and apologizing can help too, if heartfelt and sincere. If you have any questions about whether to speak or what to say, you should discuss this with your attorney ahead of time. Generally, it’s better to say nothing at all than to risk saying the wrong thing. With that said, you can help yourself here with the appropriate statement.
Will I go to jail right after the hearing?
Once that is complete, the court will make its decision and sentence you. If you will be getting jail time, as is often the case with a DUII conviction, you will typically know ahead of time if you’re going into custody right away. If you are, most jurisdictions will bring a deputy down to the courtroom to escort you to the jail. Sometimes, we get permission ahead of time to turn yourself in (TSI). If this is the case, you turn yourself in to start your sentence at a later, pre-planned time. Your attorney will have had a detailed conversation with you ahead of time so you’ll know which is applicable for your case.
As with every court appearance, if you have any questions before your hearing, contact your attorney who will be happy to address all of your concerns before you appear in front of the judge. Reynolds Defense Firm wants to prepare you for success in your case and in life: we’re your guide through the legal process.