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Judges often have a good deal of discretion in determining sentences. But they're at least somewhat constrained by laws saying which factors lead to stiffer punishment and and which ones favor leniency.
Aggravating Circumstances in Sentencing
When a judge sentences a defendant after a guilty or “no contest” plea or a jury conviction, a variety of factors come into play.
Mitigating Circumstances in Sentencing
Virtually every person facing criminal punishment wants to know the factors that might cause a judge to increase the sentence.