the value of hiring an attorney for your troubled child
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the value of hiring an attorney for your troubled child

The first time my son got into some legal trouble, I didn't hire an attorney. I figured that he would just get a slap on the wrist and that he should accept his punishment, and that's what happened. The second time he got into trouble, I had to hire an attorney. I knew that since he had a record, the judge would not be so lenient about his punishment and he could suffer some serious consequences that could haunt him for his entire life. If you have a troubled child, my blog could help you understand the value of hiring an attorney for him or her.

the value of hiring an attorney for your troubled child

3 Key Factors That Raise Or Lower Criminal Sentences

Owen Bertrand

If you are convicted of a violent crime, the judge may have significant leeway in what sentence to impose. However, they may have little leeway as well. Three key factors make up a large percentage of this decision. Here's what you need to know about these factors. 

1. Minimums and Maximums

Most crimes are categorized and given a range of sentencing choices that judges may assign. These crimes are categorized first as a felony or a misdemeanor, then as a certain class of felony, and then as a type of specific crime. Each is then often combined with a mandatory minimum sentence and a statutory maximum.

In many cases, minimum and maximum guidelines are prescribed and not up to the individual judge. The judge may choose between these parameters, but they usually may not exceed them. 

2. Aggravating and Mitigating Factors

The next sentencing guideline is known as an aggravating factor. These are elements specific to the crime committed and which make that crime more heinous and, therefore, worthy of higher punishment. Common aggravating factors include violent crimes perpetrated against vulnerable persons (like the elderly or infirm), repeat offenses, or hate crimes. 

Mitigating factors, as their name suggests, are factors that could make the crime worthy of lower punishment. If this is a first criminal conviction, if the accused suffered childhood abuse, or even if they display genuine remorse, for instance, these may mitigate the sentence a judge imposes.

3. Enhancements

Finally, there are enhancements. These are more formalized — and sometimes mandatory — forms of aggravating factors. A sentencing enhancement is often a specific set of additional penalties attached to a sentence if one of the enhancing factors is involved.  Such enhancements may permit the sentence to exceed the stipulated maximum for that particular crime. 

Enhancements commonly include the use of weapons, a certain number of convictions, gang affiliation, and proof of hate crimes. 

Where to Get Help

Avoiding factors that increase the sentence is vital for anyone accused of a crime. Your best resource to do so is the help of a qualified criminal defense lawyer in your jurisdiction. They will work with you to identify how best to defend yourself against both the crime itself as well as potential increases from enhancements, aggravating factors, and mandatory sentencing guidelines. Make an appointment today to learn how they can help you. 

For more information on violent crimes cases, contact a professional near you.