What is a sentencing hearing in a criminal case?
Question & AnswerWhat is a sentencing hearing in a criminal case?
2. Understand the mitigating factors in your case
At your sentencing , the judge looks at any that apply to you. These factors could result in a lighter .
Depending on your case, your mitigating factors may include:
- other penalties you might experience because of your conviction
- the absence of a criminal record for previous crimes
- the facts of your
- how you've behaved since the crime
- your personal circumstances
Before your sentencing hearing, you should be ready to:
- talk about who you are
- talk about the mitigating factors that affect your case
- describe any plans you have for addressing personal issues that led to criminal behaviour
The court may consider other penalties you will have to deal with because of your conviction, such as:
- paying more for car insurance or not being able to get it
- losing your driver's licence
- losing your job
- being unable to travel
- losing parenting time, which used to be called access, to your children
The court will consider whether you have a criminal record and if so, how long it's been since your last conviction. A significant gap in your criminal record is a mitigating factor. And, if you went to jail, the judge will consider how long you were in jail.
The court will consider your role in the crime and what happened. For example, they may consider whether you:
- had addiction or mental health issues at the time of the crime
- turned yourself in and cooperated when you were
The court will also consider what has happened since the crime. For example, they may consider whether you:
- returned or replaced any stolen or damaged property
- did volunteer work or gave money to a charity to show you want to repair the damage you caused
- followed the release order, if one was given
- took steps to address addiction or mental health issues, such as counselling or support groups
The court will consider your personal situation, including your:
- cultural background, such as whether you have Aboriginal heritage
- work history and potential work opportunities
- children and other dependents, and the difficulties your potential sentence could cause them
They will also consider whether you:
- are remorseful
- are likely to address your issues so you won't commit another crime
- have a history of abuse or lack of family support
- pled guilty, which saves the expense of a
- had strict pre-trial conditions, especially , and whether you should be given extra credit as a result of those conditions
Addictions, history of abuse, and mental health issues
Although difficult life circumstances do not excuse criminal behaviour, explaining your personal history at sentencing is important. It helps the judge understand what may have influenced your decision to commit a crime.
Tell the court about any addictions that you have, or period of abuse that you have experienced. Describe the issue and how it affects your behaviour. For example, you should tell the court about:
- drug abuse and addictions
- alcohol abuse
- physical or emotional abuse you've experienced
- mental health issues you deal with
How you're managing an addiction or mental health issue can also affect your sentencing. Tell the court if you've attended counselling, therapy, or treatment for addiction or mental health issues.