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How Do Texas Judges Decide on a Sentence?

 Posted on March 24,2022 in Criminal Defense

TX defense lawyerIf you have looked up the potential sentences for the crime you have been or may be charged with, you probably noticed that there is a range. For example, the statutory sentence for a given crime might be “2 to 6 years imprisonment,” or “not more than one year in jail and/or a fine of no greater than $5,000.” This is because no two crimes are alike. Even if two people are charged with the exact same offense, there is still the likelihood that the circumstances of one crime are more serious than the other. One person convicted of assault may have caused greater harm to the victim, for example. Judges have quite a bit of discretion in Texas sentencing. Even if you believe that a conviction is inevitable, there is still a lot a lawyer can do to help you during sentencing.

What Kinds of Factors Suggest that Lighter Sentencing is Appropriate?

Circumstances that make a crime less serious than the charge a defendant is convicted of suggests are called “mitigating factors.” If there are a lot of mitigating factors present, the court will likely opt for a sentence that is at the lower end of the statutory sentencing range. Mitigating factors could be the difference between jail time and probation. These factors include:

  • Genuine remorse - If a defendant shows that they are genuinely sorry for committing the offense and regret their actions, the court may not see a need to throw the book at him.
  • Mental illness - When a mental illness, such as a substance abuse disorder or issues like bipolar disorder played a large role in the crime, the defendant may be seen as less responsible for his conduct and a lighter sentence can be used. This is especially true if the defendant is taking steps like going to rehab or seeking mental health care.

What Kinds of Factors Suggest that Harsher Sentencing is Appropriate?

These are called “aggravating factors.” If there are too many aggravating factors, the sentence might be at the upper end of the statutory range. They include things like:

  • Vulnerable victim - Choosing a victim who is elderly, disabled, or a child may make the offense more serious.
  • Repeat offenses - Repeating a mistake can suggest to the judge that you are not remorseful and refuse to learn from past experience.
  • Hate crime - If the court thinks that your crime was motivated by hatred towards a particular group, such as people belonging to a certain race or religion, the crime could be seen as particularly bad, warranting a harsh sentence.

You will need an attorney who can emphasize any mitigating factors while trying to reduce the impact of any aggravating factors.

Call a Karnes County Criminal Defense Lawyer

BRCK Criminal Defense Attorneys is highly skilled at assisting defendants during the sentencing process. Our Karnes City criminal defense lawyers can take action to protect you from harsh sentencing even if you are likely to be convicted. Call 830-769-1010 for a free consultation.




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