An attorney can advocate for mitigating factors in your sentence

Depending on the facts unique to a criminal defendant’s case, the penalties imposed for convictions of sexual offenses can have dramatically different outcomes.

Consider the following sentences in Tennessee: A “Class A” felony can result in 15-60 years in prison, a “Class B” felony is 8-30 years, and a “Class C” felony is 3-15 years. What accounts for that range?

In general, a judge will examine aggravating and mitigating factors when determining between the maximum and minimum range of a prison term. Those factors relate to the rationale of the criminal justice system: to serve justice and to rehabilitate criminal behavior, where possible, to prevent recidivism.

Examples of aggravating factors include a previous criminal record, the violent nature or severity of the crime, and anything that might suggest that harsher punishment is required. Mitigating factors, in contrast, are any behaviors or facts that suggest that a more lenient sentence would still accomplish the goals of justice. A first time offender and/or a defendant's demonstrated willingness to pursue community service, counseling or other alternatives to imprisonment might all result in a lighter sentence.

Individuals charged with a sex crime, in particular, may face an uphill battle when pursuing plea deals with prosecutors, where available, or mitigating factors. Yet our law firm insists on each defendant’s right to procedural due process. We treat our clients with respect and handle each case with discretion. Although the actions of a jury cannot be foreseen, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a big impact on the outcome of a criminal case. Our criminal law firm’s website describes our practice in greater detail, including our defense to sex offenses.

Source: FindLaw, “Sexual Assault Penalties and Sentencing,” copyright 2016, Thomson Reuters

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Patrick T. McNally, Attorney at Law
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