When you’ve been charged with a crime, your main focus is on avoiding conviction. Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible in every case. If you are convicted, the sentencing phase of your case is critical. Criminal convictions in New Jersey carry serious consequences, even for lesser offenses. Time in prison, heavy fines, and other penalties can be a burden to you and your family for years to come.
New Jersey criminal sentencing attorney Lauren Wimmer understands what you’re facing. More importantly, she knows what it takes to get you a fair result. Unfortunately, time is not on your side, and delays can result in the loss of your rights. Contact Wimmer Criminal Defense Law today at 215-712-1212 to schedule a free consultation and learn about how she can help you.
Many people think that their case is over once they are convicted and that their punishment is already determined. This is a huge mistake – the sentencing phase is not a formality, and a skilled criminal sentencing attorney can make a tremendous difference in the sentence you receive.
If you represented yourself at trial, there is no reason why you can’t hire a criminal defense attorney for the sentencing phase of your case. New Jersey’s sentencing laws are complicated, and if you aren’t careful, you could wind up with a much harsher sentence than you deserve. The best thing you can do is contact an experienced New Jersey sentencing attorney as soon as possible to at least provide an evaluation of your case and what penalties you may be facing.
If you already have a lawyer, don’t assume that you have to be represented by the same attorney who represented you at trial. This is not the case. We represent criminal defendants during the sentencing phase who are dissatisfied with the representation they have received so far or are unhappy with the outcome of their trial. Even if prior counsel did an adequate job, hiring a new lawyer to handle your sentencing can serve multiple benefits – a fresh set of eyes, a new perspective, and renewed passion can help you get a fair sentence and avoid the harshest penalties. A new lawyer can also provide a second opinion and a candid assessment on the possible penalties you are facing.
In addition, your sentencing lawyer can identify potential legal issues with your case that may be worth appealing. Many sentencing lawyers also handle criminal appeals, so your sentencing attorney is well-positioned to take over your case and hopefully help you reach a better outcome.
You probably already have a general sense of the potential penalties if convicted of the charges against you. Generally speaking, you could be facing the following:
The penalties resulting from a conviction could change your life forever. Most people can’t afford to spend any time in jail or prison, and the fines can be a life-long financial burden for both you and your family. An experienced New Jersey sentencing attorney can make sure you get a sentence that is fair and avoid some of the harshest penalties you may be facing.
New Jersey’s sentencing guidelines are incredibly complex. An experienced attorney will know how they apply in your case and what factors work in your favor. However, keep in mind that the prosecution will likely argue introduce evidence that supports a harsher sentence. You need to know how to formulate an effective argument and assemble the necessary evidence that supports a lighter sentence, as well as how to argue against the prosecution’s recommendations. This is very difficult for non-lawyers, which is why hiring a sentencing attorney is so important.
New Jersey’s sentencing laws are contained in the Code of Criminal Justice, Section 2C:43-1-22. These laws create a framework that judges use to determine the appropriate sentence.
Generally speaking, the potential penalty you face will depend on the severity of your offense. New Jersey law provides for four categories of felonies, referred to as “indictable offenses:”
First degree offenses:
Lesser crimes in New Jersey are referred to as “disorderly persons” offenses, which are commonly known as misdemeanors elsewhere. Disorderly persons offenses are punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
For most crimes, the potential punishment is set by the relevant statute. Generally speaking, the judge will take the middle number of the sentencing range, and then adjust your punishment up or down based on aggravating or mitigating factors. Aggravating factors are those that suggest a harsher penalty (for example, you have numerous prior convictions). Mitigating factors are those that suggest a lighter sentence, such as you have no prior criminal history or you were only an accessory to the crime.
For third and fourth-degree crimes, there is a presumption of non-incarceration. This means that you are not likely to serve time in prison, but the judge can impose a prison sentence if they feel it would be appropriate.
Finally, judges do have the discretion to decide whether some or all of your prison sentence can be served on probation. For many defendants, serving probation rather than going to prison is an excellent outcome. However, the judge is not likely to arrive at this conclusion on their own – you need an experienced criminal sentencing attorney to persuade them that this is an appropriate and fair punishment in your case.
Once convicted, your possible sentence is probably the last thing you want to think about. Don’t give up hope – criminal sentencing attorney Lauren Wimmer will fight to get you a fair result. Call us today at 215-712-1212 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.