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This is how a judge determines your sentence

If you are convicted of a crime, the next thing that happens is criminal sentencing. Your sentence is based on many factors including whether or not there is a minimum sentencing requirement. Criminal offenses may be penalized with things like community service or may result in life in prison without parole, depending on the case.

Judges consider many things before determining a sentence. First, he or she will look at your history of offenses. If this is your first offense, you're less likely to face severe penalties than if this is your fifth, for example. A judge also considers your role in the criminal act. Were you the one who instigated the crime, or were you an accessory? Accessories may face fewer penalties than those accused as a main offender.

Other factors that play a role in sentencing include determining if there were victims of the crime and if they were injured or could have been injured, considering whether or not you were cruel or destructive to the victim and deciding if you displayed regret or remorse for your actions.

A conviction doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to prison. Community service is performed in the community without necessitating time in jail in some cases and fines and restitution might be paid after certain crimes. If you're convicted of multiple crimes, you may be able to serve sentences concurrently, or at the same time, so that you actually spend less time in prison or jail than it seems. Your attorney can help you understand the penalties you may face and how they'll work out upon sentencing.

Source: FindLaw, "Criminal Sentencing," accessed Aug. 11, 2017

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