Pushing for Fair Sentencing: The Fight of Defense Lawyers

Despite the best efforts of defense attorneys, some criminal cases end in a conviction. In such instances, fair sentencing becomes paramount, serving as a safeguard against the undue punishment of individuals for their offenses. Fair sentencing not only upholds the principles of justice but also protects individuals from disproportionate penalties that may not align with the severity of their actions.

Defense lawyers advocate for fair sentencing, even when facing an unfavorable verdict. They diligently work to present compelling arguments and mitigate factors that may influence sentencing outcomes. By meticulously examining the circumstances, defense attorneys seek to uncover mitigating factors that may sway the judge or jury towards a more just and lenient sentencing decision. These factors may include the defendant's background, remorse, cooperation with authorities, or extenuating circumstances contributing to the offense.

At Lokken & Putnam, P.C., we advocate tirelessly for our clients in Salt Lake City. Please contact us at (801) 829-9783 to schedule a meeting.

Fairness in the Criminal Justice System

Embedded within the fabric of fairness is the constitutional principle enshrined in the Eighth Amendment, which protects individuals from cruel and unusual punishment. While the determination of what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment has historically rested with the Supreme Court, it generally denotes that sentences must not be disproportionate to the severity of the crime committed.

Fair sentencing hinges on the concept of proportionality, wherein the severity of the offense is weighed against the prescribed penalty.

This assessment considers various factors, including:

  • The nature and circumstances of the crime
  • The defendant's criminal history
  • Sentences imposed on similarly situated individuals

Sentencing Guidelines

Sentencing guidelines provide a framework for judges to consider when imposing sentences, contributing to uniformity and consistency in the penalties imposed. In Utah, the sentencing guidelines for misdemeanors are delineated in Utah Code § 76-3-204. Those for felonies are outlined in Utah Code § 76-3-203.

Challenges in the Sentencing Process

The sentencing process can present many challenges for defense lawyers striving for fair client results.

One common challenge faced by defense lawyers during sentencing is the influence of various factors that can significantly impact the outcome of a case. Among these factors are mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which impose predetermined minimum sentences for certain offenses, leaving little room for judicial discretion. This lack of flexibility can often result in disproportionately harsh sentences that do not adequately consider the individual circumstances of the case or the defendant's background.

Additionally, judicial discretion is significant in sentencing outcomes, as judges are tasked with determining the appropriate penalties within the bounds of the law. However, this discretion can sometimes lead to inconsistencies in sentencing, with similar cases resulting in vastly different outcomes depending on the judge presiding over the case. This lack of uniformity can undermine the fairness and integrity of the criminal justice system.

Advocating for Fair Sentencing

Defense lawyers employ various strategic approaches to advocate for their clients and mitigate potential harsh penalties.

According to the Utah Court system, judges can consider aggravating and mitigating factors when determining a sentence. Mitigating factors are circumstances or characteristics of the defendant that may warrant a more lenient sentence.

These mitigating factors can include:

  • Cooperation with law enforcement
  • Willingness to undergo treatment or rehabilitation
  • Presence of developmental disabilities that may have contributed to the offense

Defense lawyers present compelling evidence in favor of leniency during sentencing hearings. This evidence may include testimony from character witnesses, expert witnesses, or the defendant, highlighting positive aspects of their character, remorse, rehabilitation efforts, or contributions to their community.

In addition to presenting mitigating factors, defense lawyers can use plea bargaining as a strategic tactic to seek more favorable sentencing outcomes. Plea bargaining involves negotiating with prosecutors to reach a mutually acceptable agreement, typically involving the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser charge or accepting a reduced sentence in exchange for concessions from the prosecution.

Hire a Lawyer for Help Seeking Justice

Defense lawyers are steadfast in their commitment to seeking fair and equitable sentencing outcomes for their clients. With a deep understanding of legal principles and a dedication to protecting the rights of the accused, attorneys work tirelessly to navigate the complexities of the legal system and advocate zealously on behalf of their clients. Whether presenting mitigating factors, negotiating plea bargains, or presenting compelling evidence in favor of leniency, lawyers employ various strategic approaches to pursue fair outcomes in sentencing proceedings.

Lokken & Putnam, P.C. is here to provide compassionate and skilled legal representation to individuals in Salt Lake City. Please call (801) 829-9783 or connect online.