Unfavorable criminal proceedings do not end with a guilty plea or conviction. Sentencing, or the imposition of criminal penalties, will follow someone entering a guilty plea or the courts convicting an individual. State and federal laws provide guidelines regarding what sentence someone must serve after a criminal conviction, but the final determination is usually at the discretion of the judge overseeing the case.
They have to consider the circumstances and also the four principles of criminal sentencing. What are the principles that influence the criminal sentence handed down by the courts?
Retribution and symbolic denunciation
When people think of a criminal sentence, it is often retribution or punishment that they imagine as the primary motivator. It is true that society has largely agreed that certain kinds of behaviors require punishment. Causing harm to other people or stealing from businesses are acts that damage others and therefore require a penalty. Additionally, by imposing a sentence intended to punish the person convicted, the sentence serves as a form of symbolic denunciation on the part of the state, which serves as a way for the state to publicly condemn such behaviors.
Someone’s incarceration could be an opportunity for them to think deeply about their behaviors and the direction of their life. They could potentially seek educational opportunities and even seek treatment for substance abuse or mental health issues that contributed to their misconduct. A criminal sentence can potentially help someone heal and become a more productive member of society.
A criminal sentence is meant to serve as a deterrent both to the individual who committed the crime and to the community at large. Someone who serves a lengthy sentence for criminal misconduct may more carefully consider their actions in the future to avoid another arrest. Members of the community who hear about a significant penalty imposed on an individual for a crime may be less likely to commit the same crime because of the possible consequences.
Protection of the public
Especially in scenarios where someone faces accusations of a violent criminal offense, their sentence of incarceration or supervision can help protect members of their community from the risk of them reoffending in the near future.
Criminal defendants who understand the thought process behind sentencing may have an easier time working with a lawyer to develop an effective criminal defense strategy to reduce the sentence handed down by the courts. Learning more about what happens during sentencing and why may help those hoping to respond proactively to pending criminal charges.