Whether you are being sentenced as part of a negotiated plea or sentenced pursuant to a finding of guilt, your fate is ultimately in the hands of the sentencing judge. The sentencing process and the sentencing judge’s discretion in determining your sentence will vary depending on whether you are being sentenced for a misdemeanor or a felony.

In misdemeanor cases, sentencing judges have wide discretion within the statutory range established by the legislature. In such cases I will prepare a presentencing report for the court that will emphasize why the court should impose a lower end sentence. I will then make a sentencing recommendation that I believe is sufficient to satisfy the court, yet allows you to return to your normal life with minimal disruption. The judge may not accept my recommendation. The judge is not bound by my recommendation. But I will do everything in my power to convince the judge to exercise her discretion in a manner that is just.


If you are being sentenced on a felony, the judge’s discretion is limited by the Sentencing Reform Act. The judge will use your current convictions and your prior criminal history to determine your offender score. The judge will then use your offender score and the seriousness level of your offense to determine your standard range. The judge will then impose a sentence within the standard range unless an upward or downward departure is justified by aggravating or mitigating circumstances. There are three ways in which I may be able to minimize the amount of punishment handed down by the court.

SENTENCING ALTERNATIVES — If you are eligible, I can argue for one of various sentencing alternatives such as the First Time Offender Waiver or the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative. These alternatives allow the court to depart from standard sentences of confinement in favor of alternative confinement (such as Electronic Home Monitoring or Work Release) and terms of community custody. The eligibility requirements are set by the legislature. Even if you are eligible, the ultimate decision on whether to impose a sentencing alternative is for the sentencing judge.
DEPARTURE — The Sentencing Reform Act limits the discretion of sentencing judges to the standard range sentence as determined by the seriousness level of your offense, and your offender score. The Act requires the presence of mitigating circumstances in order for the sentencing judge to depart from the standard range sentence. I can highlight the existence of any mitigating circumstances for the court. Where there is evidence of mitigating circumstances, I can seek a sentence that is below the standard sentencing range on your behalf. The judge will not be bound by my recommendation, but I will do everything in my power to convince him to rule in your favor.
LOWER END RECCOMENDATION — There are many possible sentences within the standard range established by the legislature. The sentencing judge is bound to enter a sentence within this range absent mitigating or aggravating circumstances. I can make a recommendation for a sentence at the lower end of the standard range. I can then argue against any recommendations made by the prosecutor seeking sentences in excess of my recommendation. The court is not bound by recommendations made by either the defense or the prosecution, but the sentencing judge is more likely to accept a recommendation that both parties have agreed upon.