If you have been convicted of a crime in Wisconsin, it is far from the end of the legal story in your case. The law gives the judge the discretion to impose a sentence in your case. There is a wide range of potential that could range from probation to the maximum possible period of incarceration under the law. The judge may consider a number of factors before they reach their decision. Two defendants could receive entirely different sentences based on their own personal situations, both in life and surrounding the crime that was committed. One key concern in any sentencing proceedings is mitigating factors.
Convictions Have Various Factors Behind Them that a Judge Considers
In a judge’s mind, there is nothing that fully excuses a criminal conviction. However, there may be some things that could either partially explain it or make it somewhat less severe than it appears on paper. These are called mitigating factors, and a judge could consider them in deciding which sentence to impose. Conversely, there are also other things that could make a criminal conviction seem worse, and they may cause a judge to increase the sentence. These are known as aggravating factors.
When a judge is determining which sentence to impose, they may ask for statements from various parties, including the prosecution and the defense. The court will complete a pre-sentencing investigation report that the judge will consider before reaching their decision. They may want to hear from family members and even the victim. Your criminal defense attorney would get the chance to argue to the judge why you should receive a less severe sentence. You would be able to explain anything that you think the judge should keep in mind when imposing punishment.
Everything Depends on You as the Defendant
According to the Court of Appeals of Wisconsin:
Sentencing is considered to be an individualized process – there is no one-size-fits-all approach to sentencing, although the judge should follow certain generalized rules and considerations.
Mitigating Factors that a Wisconsin Court Will Consider
From Wisconsin case law, there is a lengthy list of factors that a court could consider. The primary factors are:
- The gravity of the offense
- The offender’s character
- The public’s need for protection
However, there are a number of other things that could come into play, including:
- The defendant’s past record of criminal offenses
- The defendant’s history of undesirable behavior patterns
- The defendant’s personality, character, and social traits
- The present investigation results
- The viciousness or aggravated nature of the defendant’s crime
- The degree of the defendant’s culpability
- The defendant’s demeanor at trial
- The defendant’s age, educational background, and employment record
- The defendant’s remorse, repentance, or cooperativeness
- The defendant’s rehabilitative needs
The Way Judges Weigh Mitigating Factors Can Vary
When it comes to the criminal justice system, understanding how judges weigh mitigating factors is crucial. As a defendant, attorney, or concerned citizen, it’s essential to recognize that the way judges assess these factors can vary significantly.
Mitigating factors are circumstances or evidence that can reduce the severity of a defendant’s sentence. These factors may include a defendant’s lack of prior criminal history, remorse, cooperation with law enforcement, or even a troubled upbringing. However, the weight given to these factors can fluctuate from one judge to another.
In Wisconsin, as in many other states, judges have some discretion in sentencing, which means their personal beliefs and experiences may influence their decisions. Some judges may prioritize rehabilitation and leniency, while others may lean towards a punitive approach. Additionally, legal precedents, local court practices, and sentencing guidelines can also impact how judges evaluate mitigating factors.
To navigate the complexities of the legal system effectively, it’s crucial to consult with experienced attorneys who understand the local judicial landscape and can tailor their strategy accordingly. Being aware of these variations in how judges weigh mitigating factors can be the key to achieving the best possible outcome for your case.
Your Attorney Needs to Present Your Side of the Story
From your vantage point, your attorney should get to know you. Not only should they be prepared to argue based on the factual circumstances of the alleged offense, but they should also take a close look at your life to see if there are any factors that could persuade a judge to impose a lesser sentence.
Here are some possible things that could be mitigating factors in a sentencing determination:
- A prior history of being an abuse victim in your life
- Genuine remorse expressed, both at trial and through your actions
- A clean prior criminal record
- Steps that you have taken since the alleged crime to turn your life around
- The nature of your relationship with the alleged victim
Your attorney should speak to you and learn as much about you as possible to present your own most compelling case to the judge. Depending on the potential penalties, they may even cast a very wide net and speak to family members to learn even more than can be helpful in your case. Your own input would be considered in the pre-sentencing investigation report. Then, you would have a chance to address the court prior to any sentencing decision. Your attorney would prepare you for the court hearing.
It is crucial that you have an attorney representing you in your criminal case. If you go in front of the judge on your own, you could do or say something that may upset the court. Alternatively, you could miss the chance to present a strong argument for a lesser sentence.
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor, the attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff can help you throughout all phases of your case. We work with you until the end to obtain the best possible result for you. Call us today at (920)-450-9800 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation. We are standing by and waiting to help.