DUI Sentencing Hearing
The judge will determine the appropriate punishment and will impose conditions for probation. The sentence is a creation of the court’s discretion. There are some crimes that require mandatory minimum sanctions. DUI for instance, requires mandatory minimum DUI Penalties that the judge must impose.
Defense counsel will make a recommendation for punishment. An experienced attorney will discuss the details of this hearing before your appearance. The defense attorney will present positive factors, showing the defendant in a more favorable light before the court. When appropriate, the presentation should convey the defendant's good standing with their employer, family responsibilities, and the defendant's limited criminal history. An individual arrested for DUI should complete an alcohol assessment and attend a DUI Victim Impact Panel before any sentencing hearing. Proof of completing the evaluation and Victim Panel should be presented at the sentencing hearing. The defense lawyer’s recommendation should be unique for each client.
The prosecuting attorney will make a statement in support of a more harsh penalty. The prosecutor will present the defendant's criminal history. Patterns of criminal behavior usually results in a harsher sentence from the court. For instance, if a defendant has multiple criminal convictions resulting from alcohol or drug use the court may not be pleased at the sentencing hearing for the new DUI conviction.
Upon hearing from both lawyers, the judge will inquire if the defendant would like to make a statement. The defendant may remain silent, however it is advisable to discuss this option with your attorney. Once all the statements are finished, the judge will impose a sentence.
The sentencing court usually imposes a suspended sentence. This means a portion of the maximum jail and fine are suspended while the defendant remains on probation. If there is a violation of probation the court may impose part or all of the suspended jail and fine.
There are rare instances where the court imposes a deferred sentence on a DUI conviction. A deferred sentence must not be confused with a Deferred Prosecution. They are entirely different case dispositions. Follow the link to learn more about the deferred sentence.