Consider yourself in a worst-case scenario: you were charged with a criminal offence, you are facing potential jail time, and your sentencing hearing is approaching. If this is truly a worst-case scenario, in all likelihood you are looking at serious jail time if your lawyer doesn’t pull something out of his or her hat. Your lawyer must have the right approach to a sentencing hearing to achieve the best result for you.

What Does a Sentencing Hearing Entail?

At its most basic level, a sentencing hearing is where someone who has been accused of a crime, through trial and convicted is sentenced by a judge. It may take place right after an offender has pled guilty or been found guilty – or it may be quite some time afterward, up to months after judgment. Sentencing hearing can be quite short – as little as a few minutes or they can go on for days, depending upon the crime and the issues involved.

Depending upon the circumstances, the Crown and your lawyer might agree upon a sentence and jointly recommend that to the judge, or they might argue for different sentences, sometimes varying widely. The judge, of course, is not bound by either joint recommendations nor by the arguments presented by Crown counsel and defendant’s lawyers who disagree.

Crown counsel and the defendant’s lawyers can present exhibits at sentencing hearings, including letters – such as character references – Pre-Sentencing Reports, the defendant’s criminal record or other materials that could impact the court’s decision on sentencing. Based on such exhibits, the Crown and the defence can ask for differing types of sentencing, or different lengths of a sentence, be it incarceration or probation. These exhibits and the arguments that accompany them are known as submissions.

After these submissions, the judge will consider the arguments made and sentence the offender. This can happen immediately, after a break or even after a day or so while the judge considers what sentence to hand down. Among other things, the judge must consider whether the law has changed since the offence was committed. Under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, if the law governing the fine or imprisonment term for an offence has changed since the offence took place, the sentence must reflect that change in the law. The judge also may consider the submissions and exhibits of both Crown counsel and the defence. Given that, it is critical to have defence counsel who can make the arguments that most benefit you at sentencing.

If You Have Been Convicted of Criminal Charges in the Calgary area, It’s Not Too Late—Contact the Lawyers of Bourdon Defence Today

If you have been convicted of a criminal offence in Calgary or surrounding Alberta, it is not too late to find a lawyer to determine what your rights are under the circumstances. The lawyers of Bourdon Defence can assist you in protecting your rights in the event that you need to go through a sentence hearing. Call us today at (403) 474-4143