The Importance Of A Criminal Defense Attorney At Sentencing
Once an individual pleads guilty to a criminal offense or is found guilty by a jury at trial, they may believe that their case is closed and there is no longer the need to have the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. However, even if a person is convicted, one of the most important stages of their criminal case is yet to come — sentencing. At a sentencing hearing, the judge presiding over your case will issue a written judgment of your guilt as well as a court order for the penalties imposed. These penalties can vary depending on your circumstances.
If you had negotiated a plea deal, the sentence you receive should not be a surprise. However, it is still important to have counsel in case the judge disapproves of any of the terms of the sentence and sets aside the agreement. If you entered an open plea, the judge has the complete discretion to determine an appropriate sentence based on the circumstances of your case and any arguments made by your defense attorney and the prosecutor. If you were found guilty at trial, the sentencing hearing will likely include witnesses who can testify to your character, as well as witnesses testifying against your character. It is critical to have a qualified defense attorney at such a sentencing hearing.
Preserving Your Rights At Sentencing
At sentencing, not only do you have the right to effective assistance of counsel, but you also have other constitutional rights, as well, including the right against self-incrimination. Just as at trial, you have the right to maintain that you are innocent and to not admit any wrongdoing. In a recent case decided by the Florida First District Court of Appeals, Macan v. State, this right was violated at the sentencing stage.
The defendant in the case maintained her innocence throughout trial, but was found guilty by the jury. At sentencing, the judge repeatedly stated that the defendant’s lack of remorse, refusal to apologize, and failure to take full responsibility for the alleged criminal actions contributed to a harsher sentence. However, the defendant had the constitutional right to refuse to admit to the crime; and why would she apologize or show remorse for something she claims she had not done? The Court of Appeals found that it violated the defendant’s rights to use lack of remorse as a sentencing factor when she maintained her innocence and sent the case back for a new judge and new fair sentencing. Situations like this illustrate the importance of having a defense attorney protecting your rights at sentencing.
Contact An Experienced Boca Raton Criminal Defense Attorney For Help
No matter what stage you are in of your criminal trial from arrest to sentencing to possible sealing of your criminal record, it is imperative to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer representing your best interests and legal rights. At the law office of Lavalle, Brown & Ronan in Boca Raton, our team of attorneys is committed to standing up for individuals facing criminal allegations and can help you review your options and build effective defense strategies in your case. If you have been arrested, charged, or believe you are under investigation for any type of criminal offense, do not delay in calling today at 888-646-1315 to discuss your case.