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.
Aggravating Circumstances: Sentence Enhancements
A defendant’s conviction results in a sentence of six years in prison. How did the judge arrive at that number?
Aggravating Circumstances: Vulnerable Victims
You’ve seen it many times in movies—the mugger targets the old lady, who proceeds to beat him with the purse he is trying to steal. Except, in real life, the old lady doesn’t usually fare so well.
Aggravating Circumstances in California
In California, as in other states and federal court, judges consider aggravating circumstances when sentencing a defendant convicted of a crime.