Los Angeles Sentencing Lawyer

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Los Angeles Sentencing Attorney

If you have been convicted of a crime, you might feel overwhelmed and scared. It can feel like life, as you know it will never be the same. Depending on the sentence your judge gives you at your hearing, this might be true. The smartest way to fight for a light sentence is to hire an experienced sentencing lawyer who will present convincing evidence on your behalf.

Our team at the Law Offices of Marc S. Nurik knows how scared you might be after receiving a guilty verdict at a trial. It is important that you do not give up and know that you still have your sentencing hearing to fight for a better future. Attorney Marc S. Nurik has four decades of experience negotiating settlements for his clients, and he will fight his hardest to help you walk away with a positive outcome.

Who Attends a Los Angeles Sentencing Hearing?

If you have been found guilty of a crime, you will have to attend a sentencing hearing. A judge will preside over the hearing and make the ultimate decision about the penalties you will face. However, it is not just you and the judge in the room, and there are opportunities to negotiate for a light sentence.

It is in your interest to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight for a light sentence at this hearing. You and your defense lawyer will both attend, as will the prosecutor who handled your criminal case during your trial. If you’ve been convicted, it means that the court was swayed by the prosecutor’s argument in the trial and that the prosecutor has a good chance of fighting for a harsh sentence. To combat this, you need a defense attorney who can craft just as strong an argument for you to receive a light sentence.

In addition to the lawyers, other people might attend your sentencing hearing, too. For example, the attorneys might call witnesses to help support their argument for what kind of a sentence you deserve. In some cases, people who were impacted by the crime might also go to the hearing to see what punishments are given out. On the other hand, family, friends, and other supporters of the defendant can sometimes attend as well.

What Happens at a Los Angeles Sentencing Hearing?

At the hearing, sentencing is the main focus. The prosecution will present an argument to the judge as to what kind of sentence you should receive. The prosecution is working against you and will fight for you to receive a harsh sentence that transforms your life. On the other hand, your criminal defense attorney will also get a chance to present an argument in the hopes that you will receive a light sentence. They will both present evidence to strengthen their claims and sway the judge. For instance, the prosecution may point to evidence such as:

  • Your Previous Criminal Record: If you have committed other crimes in the past, even if they were different from the one you are currently being convicted of, the prosecutor will likely bring these up and try to paint you as an untrustworthy member of society to the judge.
  • Substance Abuse: If you have a history of abusing drugs and alcohol, the prosecutor might bring this up and try to suggest that you are reckless and potentially likely to commit another crime.
  • Statements From Impacted Individuals: If someone was hurt by the crime, the prosecutors might show the judge statements from these people to try and argue that you should be harshly punished.
  • Violations of Your Parole: If you were on probation or parole when you were convicted of a new offense, the prosecutor on your case would use this to their advantage to fight for a strict sentence.
  • Public Safety Concerns: If you were convicted of a violent crime, the prosecutor might try to convince the judge to issue a tough sentence out of concern for public safety.
  • It is normal to be intimidated by all of the possible ways in which the prosecutor can try and get you punished. However, if you have the right criminal defense attorney by your side at the hearing, then you do not have to be as worried. Your attorney can show the judge all kinds of evidence in an attempt to lighten your sentence and give you a fighting chance at a bright future. For instance, your attorney might use evidence from the following list to try and show the judge that you do not deserve to face harsh consequences for what happened:
  • Your Personal Background: If you have had a difficult childhood and have had to endure tough circumstances such as abuse, your lawyer might discuss this with the judge in an attempt to give you a chance at a lighter sentence. Other personal factors that your attorney might point to are major changes in your family, like the loss of a child or spouse, health problems you might be struggling with, or responsibilities you have as a caretaker.
  • Your Mental Health Records: If you have records of mental health struggles that might have impacted your actions, your criminal defense lawyer might have the judge examine these to show that you would benefit from counseling or other forms of sentencing rather than jail. To strengthen this point, your lawyer might even bring in witnesses like psychiatrists or psychological experts who can attest that your mental health should play a role in your sentencing.
  • Character Statements From People Who Know You: If you have deep ties in your community and have had a positive impact on those around you, your criminal defense attorney might bring character statements from others to show the judge that you should not be isolated from society. For example, your lawyer might show the judge deciding your statements, letters from an employer who trusts you and relies on you or, colleagues who can attest to your good character and the potential you have for rehabilitation.
  • Your Educational or Professional Accomplishments: Your sentencing attorney will not overlook any positive accomplishments that demonstrate your ability to grow and have a positive influence on the world around you. For instance, if you have achieved a high level of education or have made waves in the business world, your lawyer might point out your dedicated work ethic and commitment to personal development.
  • Your Military Service: If you are a military veteran, your sentencing attorney will make sure to show the judge that you have served. If your service had any impacts on your mental health, such as PTSD or trauma, your defense lawyer might also show the judge proof of this as it might have had an impact on your actions and be a reason why you need rehabilitation rather than a harsh punishment.
  • Your Statement of Remorse: If you show that you are genuinely sorry for your actions and you craft a thoughtful written statement that expresses your remorse, your criminal defense attorney can show this to the judge. A statement like this can have a tremendous impact on the judge’s decision because it, in your own words, can show your own personal commitment to change.

The exact sentence that you will leave your sentencing hearing with will depend on a long list of factors. For instance, all of the following factors can impact the sentence that you leave the hearing with:

  • The Type of Crime: Crimes in California fall into three main categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. You are committing an infraction if you are violating a specific one, like a moving violation or a noise disturbance in your neighborhood. If you are found guilty of a misdemeanor, you will likely end up with a light, flexible sentence, although a serious misdemeanor can still leave you ending up with some jail time. On the other hand, if you are found guilty of a felony, you are being convicted of a serious crime, and you can often expect to spend time in jail and pay hefty fines.
    • Many crimes in California are also considered a “wobbler” offense, which means that they fall somewhere in between a misdemeanor and a felony. In these cases, your sentence will depend more on your personal factors, like your criminal record.
  • The Circumstances of the Crime Itself: The exact nature of the crime you committed will have a direct impact on your sentence. For example, if you were driving under the influence of drugs and killed a pedestrian, your sentence would be harsher than if you were driving under the influence of drugs and did not harm anyone or anything. Other factors that the judge will consider include:
    • Level of Involvement: If you were the main offender in the crime, you would likely receive a harsher sentence than someone who was an accessory in the crime. This is often taken into consideration for organized crime and complex ones like Ponzi schemes in which multiple people are involved.
    • Intention: If you were intentionally trying to hurt someone, you might see a more devastating sentence than if you were not trying to hurt someone or actively trying to avoid hurting others.
    • Your Mental State: If you were not in your right mind at the time that you committed the crime, the judge might take a more lenient approach to sentencing.
    • Impact on Your Community: The impact of your crime on those around you will play an impactful role in your sentence. For example, if you hurt another person and caused loss in your community, you will likely face a harsher sentence than if you were engaging in reckless behavior that did not have an impact on other people. However, there is no hard and fast rule for how damage to your community will impact your sentence, and it will depend on the precise factors of your case. Your lawyer can help you gain a better understanding of what to expect from the sentencing based on how your actions affected others.
  • Lawyers’ Arguments: A good lawyer can have an incredible impact on the sentence you receive. For instance, if the prosecutor brings forth strong evidence about the impact your actions had on others, the judge might tighten a sentence that could have been lighter without this argument. On the other hand, your defense attorney could also really sway the judge by bringing up a lot of evidence about your positive contributions to society.
  • Your Criminal Record: If you have been convicted of crimes in the past, especially serious crimes, you will see a harsher sentence than if you have never committed a crime before. If you are attending a sentencing hearing in California, your criminal history will have a devastating impact on your future because of the Three-Strikes law.

What Is California’s Three-Strikes Sentencing Law?

Every state has a slightly different approach to criminal sentencing. California is notoriously one of the strictest states when it comes to giving out harsh sentences, so it is vital that you have an experienced criminal sentencing lawyer to negotiate on your behalf if you want a chance of a fair sentence in Los Angeles, California. One of the reasons why California is one of the toughest states to get sentenced in is due to its Three-Strikes sentencing law.

The California Three-Strikes law will drastically increase your sentence if you are convicted of a felony in the state. The last strike means that you will face twenty-five years to life in prison if:

  • You are convicted of a serious or violent felony offense
  • You already have two prior convictions for serious felony offenses

You will also end up seeing your prison sentence doubled as a result of this law if you have:

  • Previously been convicted of any felony in the state of California
  • Have a prior violent or serious felony conviction in any state

The requirements of the Three-Strikes law trump general rules about maximum sentences. So, for example, imagine you are convicted of a felony with a maximum prison sentence of 5 years. However, you have two prior convictions for this crime from twenty years ago. Even though it was a long time ago, your new sentence will be ten years in prison because the Three-Strikes Sentencing law doubles your sentence.

It is understandable to be discouraged or worried because of this sentencing law, but there are some actions you can take to fight for a lighter sentence. For example, a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can file a Romero motion, in which they ask to get previous convictions removed from your record. If you only have two past convictions, getting one of them removed could cut your prison sentence in half, as you would no longer be subject to the Three-Strikes law. There are also some cases in which your sentencing attorney can advocate for your felony charge to be changed to a misdemeanor charge. Speaking to an attorney about the possible ways to lessen your sentence can open doors you never knew were possible, but time is of the essence. Your lawyer will need time to collect effective evidence to strengthen your case and explore your options. Reaching out to one now will give you the greatest possible chance of reducing your sentence if you have past convictions.

Does California Have Mandatory Minimum Sentences?

Many states have mandatory minimum sentences, which means you can expect to face a predetermined number of years in jail or a predetermined fine for a certain offense. Whether or not you will face a mandatory minimum sentence will depend on what crime you have been convicted of and what the nature of your exact circumstances are. For example, in California, you might face a mandatory minimum sentence for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). For instance, if you hurt someone while driving under the influence, you will have to spend at least 16 months in prison. Your criminal defense attorney can help you understand if there are mandatory minimum sentences for the crime that you were convicted of.

In 2021, California stopped using mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes. This means that the judge has more discretion as to what sentence you can receive if you were convicted of a nonviolent drug crime. A judge can also reconsider your criminal sentence after a minimum of 15 years in prison. However, it is important to note that if you were convicted of a serious drug crime and there was violence involved, you can still expect to face harsh penalties, and you should rely on a trustworthy criminal defense attorney to help you negotiate a light sentence.

There are also maximum sentences that a judge can give out for certain types of crimes. For instance, in California, the maximum amount of jail time that you can serve for a misdemeanor is one year. In order to develop an in-depth understanding of the minimum or maximum sentences that you might be looking at as a result of your conviction, you should get in touch with a sentencing attorney.

What Is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Serious Felony in Los Angeles?

Whether the California court considers your crime a misdemeanor or a felony will have a huge impact on the sentence you have to serve. It is important to understand what factors the court takes into consideration when categorizing your crime in order to set your expectations about your sentence and how your criminal defense attorney will approach advocating for you.

Misdemeanors: A misdemeanor is a crime that the court does not consider severe. Punishments for misdemeanors in California include monetary fines, community service, and jail time that cannot exceed one full year. Examples of crimes that California considers to be misdemeanors include:

  • Shoplifting
  • Prostitution
  • Resisting Arrest
  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism

Felonies: A felony is a crime that can result in a punishment like long periods of incarceration and fines. California takes felonies seriously, and you can expect to face harsh consequences if you are convicted of one. These are typically destructive and violent crimes such as:

  • Murder
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Grand Theft
  • Drug Trafficking
  • White Collar Crimes

Wobblers: If your case is considered a wobbler, it means that the crime cannot be completely classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. To determine how to charge you for a wobbler crime, the court will look at the exact details of what happened in the event and look at personal factors such as your criminal history and if you have committed any crimes in the past and what they were like. It is in your interest for the court to end up considering the crime a misdemeanor, as this means you can serve a lighter sentence than if the wobbler ends up being considered a felony.

A Los Angeles Sentencing Attorney You Can Trust

Walking into a Los Angeles sentencing hearing can be frightening. The state is one of the strictest in the whole country when it comes to handing out sentences, and if you have past felony convictions, you are not in for an easy time. However, there is hope for you if you have the right criminal defense lawyer by your side. Marc S. Nurik has more than forty years of experience supporting people convicted of serious crimes in California and is no stranger to stressful sentencing hearings.

From filing motions that aim to remove past convictions to negotiating a lighter sentence, the Law Offices of Marc S. Nurik will carefully explore all of your options. We know how to handle all kinds of complex crimes and can seamlessly navigate California’s complex legal system. When you rely on our team for legal support, you can confidently enter your sentencing hearing with an understanding of what to expect and knowing that your lawyer will fight as hard as possible for a positive outcome.

The sooner you reach out to our office, the better if you want the greatest chance for a sentence that does not stain the rest of your life. We will advocate for your needs and do everything in our power to ensure you end up with a positive outcome to your sentencing hearing. Contact the Law Offices of Marc S. Nurik today for a fighting chance at a brighter future.

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