Congdon Law. PLLC.

How Long Does The Sentencing Hearing Generally Take?


If there is a complete agreement between the parties as to what the sentence will be, then the sentencing hearing takes five minutes. If there is no agreement and there are arguments being made on both sides, then the judge has to make the decision. If there are multiple victims or multiple support witnesses for the defendant, then it’s possible that the hearing could take an hour or more, depending on the severity of the case.

Is Someone Taken To Jail Immediately After Being Sentenced?

Whether or not you are taken into custody and sent to jail immediately after the sentencing hearing is up to the judge. In some cases, we can make an agreement with the prosecution that you will have to bring yourself to jail at a future time. Generally, the best practice is to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Plan to be taken into custody at the sentencing hearing, but your lawyer will fight for the alternative.

How Do You Advise Clients That Choose To Speak At Their Own Sentencing Hearing?

If my clients speak at the sentencing hearing, I want them to speak from the heart, but I also want them to be somewhat brief. The more rambling they do, the less the judge is going to follow and pay attention. More often than not, I will counsel my clients on what to say. Sentencing is not the time for them to blame others for their actions, and it’s not the time for them to undermine the seriousness of their actions by placing blame on the victim. Sentencing is a time for the judge to see that they are remorseful, accept responsibility and are working on changing so that they don’t end up back in court. The primary concern is conveying to the judge that they are not a risk to the community and that they will not commit another crime in the future.

Is There Any Room For Reduction At A Sentencing Hearing?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reduction. If there is a plea agreement in place with a prosecutor for how much time will be served or spent on probation, then that’s a done deal and there really isn’t any wiggle room at that point. On the other hand, if the judge is determining the sentence, then we can argue for a lesser sentence than what the prosecutor asked for. For example, if the prosecutor asked for six months in jail, then it’s my job to find reasons to support asking for less jail time or a jail alternative, such as house arrest or community service. That way, a judge has a good argument for why they shouldn’t impose the maximum sentence that the prosecutor asked for.

Are There Things I Can Do Prior To Sentencing To Help The Outcome Of my Case?

There are absolutely things that can be done prior to sentencing that could help the outcome of your case. Before sentencing, it’s important to get any evaluations that your attorney recommended or that probation is likely to recommend. In the case of an assault, it’s important to get an anger management assessment or complete an anger management class. In the case of domestic assault, there are specific domestic assault programs that the courts generally require. In the case of substance abuse, they usually require that you have a chemical health evaluation and complete treatment.

When dealing with clients who have struggled with mental illness, demonstrating medication compliance and getting notes from doctors regarding the treatment plan is very persuasive. It is important to show that the person has everything under control, knows what they need to do and is in compliance with everything. Being able to demonstrate this shows that they are accepting responsibility and being proactive. It also indicates that they are less likely to commit crimes in the future.

What Does It Mean When Your Attorney Wants To Ask For A Departure?

In Minnesota, there are sentencing guidelines that apply to all felony offenses. Those guidelines determine what the presumptive sentence is under the law, meaning whether it’s a probationary sentence or a prison sentence. The guidelines rank every felony from least serious (level one), to most serious (level eleven). The most serious offenses are like murder offenses. A sentence that’s outside the range of the guidelines is called a departure. A durational departure is when you are given less time on your sentence than the guidelines suggest. There is also what’s called a dispositional departure, which is when you are supposed to go to prison but a judge gives you probation instead. It’s very important to explore these options with your attorney and see if you are eligible. They are not appropriate in all cases, but it’s important to have an attorney that knows the difference between them in order to ensure that all of your options are covered.

For more information on Timeline Of Sentencing Hearing, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (800) 684-9740 today.

Jennifer Congdon, Esq.

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