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SENTENCING

What happens after a person is convicted?

The part of a criminal trial is the guilt/innocence phase. In this part, the jury determines whether a person is guilty or not guilty. The next phase is sentencing where the judge determines the amount of time the person must serve. Most crimes carry a range of sentences, such as between five and 15 years. The judge then determines exactly what the sentence will be.

Does it matter if a person has prior convictions?

Yes, a person's prior criminal convictions can influence a judge's sentencing decision. In some states, prior convictions can cause someone to be classified as a career offender and career offenders receive longer sentences than those who are first-time offenders. In addition, some states—such as Florida—require those classified as "career offenders" to register with authorities once they have been released from prison.

LegalSpeak: How to Deal with Drunk Jurors

Miss. Code Ann. § 13-5-83. Intoxicated jurors; jurors under the control of the court:

If any juror summoned to appear at court, should render himself unfit for service by intoxication before his name is called in court, he shall be fined in a sum not exceeding one hundred dollars, and be imprisoned for a term not exceeding twenty-four hours. After grand and petit jurors are impaneled they shall be under the control of the court, and, for any breach of duty or contempt of court, may be fined and imprisoned.

LegalSpeak: Judge Reversing Jury Verdict

Wyoming Rule of Criminal Procedure, Rule 29:

If a motion for judgment of acquittal is made at the close of all the evidence, the court may reserve decision on the motion, submit the case to the jury and decide the motion either before the jury returns the verdict or after it returns a verdict of guilty or is discharged without having returned a verdict.

What is a suspended sentence?

A suspended sentence is one where the judge suspends the serving of prison time and places the defendant on probation. The defendant who receives a suspended sentence must not engage in conduct that would violate probation or the court may impose the original sentence (that was suspended). Generally, first-time offenders who commit a misdemeanor or a non-violent felony can be eligible for a suspended sentence. Often, defendants will plead guilty in exchange for receiving a suspended sentence recommendation from the prosecution to the judge.

If a defendant is sentenced to three years, how much time will the defendant actually serve?

This varies greatly from the federal system and from state to state. Generally, defendants sentenced in federal court serve at least 80 to 85 of their prison terms. State court defendants could serve a much lower percentage of their actually imprisonment, such as 20% to 30% of their actual sentence.

What is time served?

"Time served" refers to the time period in which a defendant is incarcerated before trial. Sometimes for more minor offenses, a defendant will receive only a "time served" sentence, because the defendant has already spent a significant time behind bars before the conclusion of his or her trial. In more serious cases, a defendant's actual time of imprisonment will be reduced by "time served."

What is the difference between serving sentences concurrently or consecutively?

The difference is huge, because a defendant who serves offenses concurrently serves time for the different crimes at the same time. In other words, if a defendant was convicted of two crimes, he or she would not have to serve one sentence and then another—the sentences would both run as soon as the defendant was in prison.

On the other hand, a defendant who serves sentences consecutively must serve one sentence before the next sentence begins. This means that consecutive sentencing keeps the defendant in prison for much longer than concurrent sentencing.

 
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