The criminal court system is responsible for determining what sentences are appropriate after defendants are convicted of crimes. There are many different factors that come into the picture when the courts must determine a sentence.
One of the primary things that the judge will consider is what guidelines are present for the charge the person was convicted of. These guidelines often give a sentence range, the possibilities of alternative sentences and the average sentence that is usually imposed.
Once the sentencing guidelines are reviewed, the court will consider the criminal history of the person. Typically, sentences are a bit more harsh for people who have a prior conviction. In some cases, a prior conviction for the same charge will result in longer incarceration periods and increased fines.
Another factor that is considered is the severity of the crime. Violent crimes are more likely to result in longer sentences. However, this isn't always the case. Violent components can also lead to aggravated charges, which can also lead to increased penalties.
The actions and words of the victim can also impact the sentence. Judges might also be a bit more lenient on defendants who show remorse when they are in court.
Sentences that are imposed by the court can't be cruel or unusual. While there is some debate about what this means, it is a constitutional right that mustn't be violated.
In many cases, defendants can help improve the sentencing process with what they include in their defense. This should be a consideration that is taken into account when planning a strategy for each charge that the defendant is facing.
Source: FindLaw, "Factors Considered in Determining Sentences," accessed Sep. 26, 2017