How a Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney May Be Able to Reduce Your Sentence
Many people think that their case is over once they’ve been convicted. If you are in this position, it’s critical to understand that your case is not over – In fact, the sentencing phase is almost as important as your trial. Unfortunately, getting a fair sentence isn’t easy, as it involves understanding Pennsylvania’s sentencing laws and the limits of the judge’s discretion.
At Wimmer Criminal Defense Law, our Philadelphia sentence reduction attorney knows how to navigate the sentencing phase of your case. Lauren Wimmer understands how overwhelming a conviction can be and works tirelessly every client she represents a fair sentence. If you’ve been convicted and are awaiting sentencing, call us today 215-712-1212 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Understanding the Pennsylvania Sentencing Guidelines
Once a defendant has been convicted, the sentence they face is governed by the Pennsylvania sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are extraordinarily complex, but they primarily focus on two chief factors:
- Your criminal history; and
- The seriousness of the crime you are charged with.
Ultimately, these two factors will be combined to determine the range of your sentence. Your criminal history will determine your prior record score. The judge will consider all prior criminal convictions, including any juvenile offenses that you committed after age 14. It will also include out-of-state offenses. Each offense is assigned a particular score by Pennsylvania law. All of your convictions together will determine your prior record score.
The other component is your offense gravity score. Every crime is assigned a particular offense gravity value. The more serious the crime, the higher the value, and the more likely you will face a harsher sentence.
Once the offense gravity score and the prior record score have been calculated, they are then plotted on the Pennsylvania sentencing matrix. The matrix will then determine the range of your sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia can make sure that your prior record and offense gravity scores have been calculated correctly.
Understanding the Judge’s Discretion
Judges in Pennsylvania have broad discretion when it comes to determining your sentence. The sentencing guidelines provide a range, but the judge can determine the specific sentence within that range. An experienced sentence reduction attorney in Philadelphia will know what sentences have been imposed in similar cases and what the judge may find persuasive in arguing for the lightest possible sentence.
It’s also important to understand that the sentencing guidelines are not mandatory. The judge can depart from the guidelines if they deem it is appropriate and identify their reasons for doing so in writing. This means that a sentencing reduction attorney can argue for a lighter sentence than what is recommended by the guidelines. Again, knowing what sentences have been imposed in other cases and why a lighter sentence would be appropriate is invaluable.
Aggravating and Mitigating Factors
Aggravating and mitigating factors are circumstances of your case that can increase or decrease your sentence. Aggravating factors are circumstances that can increase your sentence, while mitigating factors could result in a lighter sentence.
The prosecution is likely to identify as many aggravating factors as they can and argue for the harshest possible sentence. An experienced sentence reduction attorney can argue why those factors are invalid or shouldn’t be considered. Alternatively, a sentence reduction attorney can identify the mitigating factors in your case, and explain why those circumstances justify a lighter sentence than what is recommended by the sentencing guidelines.
Concurrent or Consecutive Sentences?
Another aspect of your case in which a sentence reduction attorney may be able to help arises when you have been convicted of multiple offenses. You will receive a sentence for each crime you have been convicted of, but the judge will have the option of determining whether you serve those sentences concurrently or consecutively.
If you are sentenced to concurrent sentences, it means that you will any time you spend in prison will be applied to both convictions. If you are sentenced to consecutive sentences, you will have to search each sentence consecutively. Depending on the case, this could make an enormous difference in the amount of time you spend in prison.
There is no rule under Pennsylvania law as to when a judge must order the sentences to be served concurrently or consecutively. A sentence reduction lawyer can have a tremendous impact in this situation by building a compelling and persuasive case for why your sentences should be concurrent and not consecutive.
Understanding the Available Sentencing Alternatives
Another way that a sentence reduction lawyer can help you obtain a lighter sentence is by understanding what sentencing alternatives may be available in your case. For example, you may be able to seek one of the following alternatives or combination of alternatives:
- House arrest
- Paying restitution to the victim
- Attending drug or alcohol treatment programs
- Attending psychological counseling
- Performing community service
Your lawyer can explain to the judge why these alternatives may be more appropriate in your case than spending time in prison. In cases where prison is unavoidable, agreeing to participate in one or more of these alternatives can persuade the judge to impose a significantly lighter sentence.
If You’ve Been Convicted But Not Yet Sentenced, Call a Philadelphia Sentence Reduction Attorney Today
As disappointing as your conviction may be, an unfairly harsh sentence can make a bad situation far worse. The prosecutor will argue for the harshest possible sentence. And while the judge is charged with ensuring that your sentence is fair, they are motivated by their own personal biases and empowered with considerable discretion under the law.
The bottom line is that you need someone on your side who will fight for your rights. Philadelphia sentence reduction attorney Lauren Wimmer will fight for you until you get a fair result. Don’t leave your future in the hands of the judge and the prosecutor – call Wimmer Criminal Defense Law at 215-712-1212 or contact us online as soon as possible so that we can begin preparing your case. Your initial consultation is always free.