When Does Sentencing Occur If I Am Found Guilty Or Take A Plea Offer?

After someone is either found guilty after or they’ve pled guilty as part of a plea bargain, typically the matter will be put over for them to be interviewed by a government agency. In New York State Court, it’s the Department of Probation, while at the Federal level it’s the Pretrial Services Agency. In either instance, the defendant is interviewed and a written report is drafted and provided to the Court. The purpose of the report is to assist the Judge in determining an appropriate sentence. It includes information about the defendant’s background and the impact of the crime(s) on any victims.

What Happens On The Day of Sentencing?

At the Sentencing, the Judge will review the report which will be made available to both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Both sides will argue for what they feel is the appropriate sentence pursuant to the law. Especially in cases with a plea bargain, it is important to make certain you are not accused of any offenses between the plea date and the sentencing date. If you are accused of another crime between the plea and the sentencing date, the judge does not have to honor the sentence that was promised in your plea bargain and can sentence you up to the maximum allowed by statute.

Are There Any Alternative Sentencing Programs For First Time Offenders In State Or Federal Court?

There are many alternative sentencing programs for first-time offenders and even for individuals with prior offenses. Many of these programs involve drug rehabilitation for individuals with a demonstrated problem with substance abuse. For charges under New York State Law, programs include the Judicial Diversion Program, the Willard Drug Rehabilitation Programs, and the Shock Program. In the Federal Courts, there are programs such as the RDAP Program. If you have a demonstrated problem with drugs or alcohol and you qualify to participate, the RDAP Program can greatly reduce your sentence.

What Should I Know If Probation Is A Part Of My Sentence?

If you are sentenced to probation, it’s important to realize that you have to abide by all the conditions of probation or you can be brought back to court and resentenced to jail time. Probation Officers are incredibly overworked people. They get a pile of new probationers every day, and very soon they have to decide how they’re going to handle each probationer. They can’t possibly closely monitor all of them. Based on their early assessment of the probationer, they have to determine if this is someone they have to really stay on top of or somebody they can give more leeway (e.g., fewer in-person meetings, fewer restrictions, even early release from probation). If you want to be someone they give more leeway, you have to make sure that you show up on time to your appointments, that you aren’t failing any drug tests, that you are not missing any curfews imposed, and that you are presenting yourself as somebody who made a mistake but truly wants to turn your life around. Do these things and you’ll often go from having to report once a week to eventually only having to report once a month. Sometimes that even turns into just a phone call once a month. Very often you’ll even be released from probation early. The single biggest thing you have to understand as a probationer is that your experience on probation is largely up to you. If you really put the time in early on to comply with your Probation Officer you can find that it becomes a lot less difficult in the long run. If you’re making mistakes early on such as picking up minor charges, missing appointments, or failing drug tests then probation is going to be much more intensive and could even result in resentencing and jail.

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