For many people, the sole focus of a criminal defense is to avoid a conviction. However, your defense doesn’t necessarily end when the jury returns their verdict. After a guilty verdict, you will eventually have to return to court. The state will conduct a presentencing investigation, which they will charge you $150 to do.
The presentencing investigation will include a victim impact statement if there is a victim to the crime. The point of this investigation is to flesh out the court’s knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the crime. Understanding the offense in depth will allow the courts to assign a more appropriate penalty.
The presentencing investigation information will then play a role in your sentencing hearing. You will also have the opportunity to defend yourself. There are two different strategies that could convince the courts to reduce the sentence you face.
Create sympathy by exploring your backstory
Personal trauma and mental health issues often play a role in criminal activity. Perhaps a fight at a bar got out of hand because the person arguing with you reminded you of your abusive father. Perhaps you suffer from a mental health condition or struggle with addiction.
Your attorney can help you evaluate the circumstances that contributed to your criminal activity and help you determine if presenting your background or your side of the story might help during sentencing.
Demonstrate true remorse and a proactive desire to improve
Some people convicted of crimes will try to avoid listening to the victim impact statement or otherwise minimize the consequences of their actions. Acknowledging how your decisions caused harm to other people and exploring how you can take responsibility for your future behavior can look sympathetic to the courts.
Voluntarily going to counseling, starting rehab, or donating money and time to charities that could benefit the victims of the criminal offense may all help. These steps show that you are accountable for your actions and wish to minimize the harm they caused.
There are other possible sentencing strategies that could mitigate the consequences of a recent conviction. Reviewing your situation and the possible penalties carefully can help you better plan for the late stages of your criminal defense.