What is a Judgment and Sentencing?
If you've been convicted at trial or you've taken a plea agreement in a felony criminal case then the last hearing that will conclude your case is called a Judgment and Sentencing Hearing.
Sentencing phase of a criminal case is conducted after a determination of guilt is made. So, a determination of guilt can be made in several ways. A defendant changes their plea and enters into a plea agreement, that is a determination of guilt right there. If a defendant goes to trial and is found guilty, either by a jury or a judge in a bench trial, that is the determination of guilt. So, when a determination of guilt is made, a Judge has to decide how to sentence a defendant.
Now, under a plea agreement, that sentencing is limited by the terms of the plea agreement. If the defendant is convicted at trial, that sentencing is limited by the charges that they are convicted of. Usually at a sentencing aggravating and mitigating factors are presented to the Judge and the Court to make the decision of what an appropriate sentence is. So, in a felony case, if the Judge has discretion to, the Judge could sentence a defendant to probation or prison. Or, in a misdemeanor case, maybe it's jail time or a fine, how much jail time is appropriate.
So, at a Judgment and Sentencing, a defendant would usually go first. A defense attorney will tell the Judge some arguments why an appropriate sentence in favorite of the defendant should be made. Then the prosecution will present their arguments. Then finally, the defense attorney will have the chance to rebut any arguments made by the prosecution. At that point, the Judge will then render sentence.
After a Judgment and Sentencing is made, if the defendant was convicted at trial, they could later file an appeal within 20 days from the Judgment and Sentencing or file what's called a Petition for Post-Conviction Relief, called a Rule 32, that's filed within 90 days. But, usually a defendant doesn't have a right to appeal if they have entered a plea agreement. In that case, they can only file a Rule 32.
If you have a criminal case and you have questions it, please give my office a call. Let's find out if your case is something we can help you with. Call my office at 928-753-6868 or visit my website at HampLaw.com.