I do not believe that judges are given too much discretion when it comes to sentencing, if they are able to keep their morals and emotions out of the court room. It is then that the power goes to their head, and their judgements need to be according to law and not unconstitutional or excessive. Some factors that judges weigh in their decisions are the circumstances involved in the criminal act, whether the defendant is a first time or repeat offender, were they the main aggressor or an accessory, if the offender was remorseful or particularly cruel during the criminal act, and/or if the offender committed the crim under duress. The judge will also allow the defendant (or their council) to speak before they rule on sentencing. The last words will also weight on the judge’s decision. In most cases, the law dictates how much of a fine or how much time an individual can be given. For instance, assault with a deadly weapon is a Class R Felony when there is serious injury or the intent to kill in North Carolina. It is punishable by 15 to 31 months in prison. However, assault with a deadly weapon grouped with both the intent to kill and serious injury is a Class C Felony, punishable by 44 to 98 months in prison. In both cases, if you have prior felony convictions, you can receive up to 63 months for the Class E Felony and up to 182 months for a Class C Felony. I believe that the time should fit the crime because if you are already an offender, then you should and will get more time than someone that is a first-time offender. In some cases, a first-time offender is likely to learn from their crime and be able to be rehabilitated to turn their life around.
A determinate sentence is a specific time the offender must serve for the crime they committed, and the judge has no discretion. An indeterminate sentence is a range of time the judge can choose from depending on the circumstances of the case. Determinate sentencing saves the court time, but not necessarily money. Without the chance for parole, since they must serve a certain amount of time, the offender will stay in prison for that amount of time. Determinate sentencing is also fair and just, but not flexible. Judges have no discretion on the time the offender must serve, and a parole board cannot let them out early. I am not certain that mandatory minimum sentencing really serves a purpose. If a criminal knows that they only must serve a year for a petty crime they committed, I do not believe this will deter them away from committing similar petty crimes in the future. There are also the individuals that cope to a crime they did not even commit, just to protect someone else from going to prison. While the innocent person is serving time, the actual offender is still on the streets left to commit more crimes.
Factors Considered in Determining Sentences. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-procedure/factors-considered-in-determining-sentences.html
Lombardo. (2017, January 15). Pros and Cons of Determinate Sentencing. Retrieved from http://visionlaunch.com/pros-and-cons-of-determinate-sentencing/
Mince-Didier, A. (2017, March 10). Assault with a Deadly Weapon in North Carolina. Retrieved from https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/resources/crim
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