How Does a Judge Decide the Sentence in a Criminal Case?
Criminal Sentencing in Jefferson County, Colorado courts, is difficult to predict. Sometimes, judges fly off the handle and give a long sentence for a crime. Other times, you wonder if the judge cares about the crime at all. Let’s look at the important points a judge looks at to determine a sentence for a crime in Arvada, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood, Colorado.
Criminal Sentencing Factors for a Judge in Arapahoe County Court – What a Judge Cares About
Judges usually go through a mental list of important factors before giving a sentence. Here is what we see in the real world of criminal sentencing:
- How other people with similar circumstances have been sentenced for that crime
- The prior criminal history of the defendant being sentenced
- What the victim thinks a good sentence would be
- What the District Attorney thinks a good sentence would be
- What probation thinks the sentence should be
- Whether the crime is one of violence
- Whether the defendant is remorseful
- Whether the crime is of a sexual nature (usually means a more strict sentence and supervision due to the political fallout should the judge be criticized in the future)
- Whether the victims were unable to defend themselves due to age or disability
Potential Sentences from a Denver County Judge
Judges have many tools at their disposal for criminal sentencing for felony or misdemeanor convictions in Denver. These commonly include:
- County Jail for misdemeanors
- Department of Corrections for felony crimes
- House arrest
- For DUI cases or those with alcohol involved: a SCRAM unit, monitored sobriety, and alcohol therapy
- Community service (aka useful public service)
- Sex offender treatment and registration for sex cases
- Drug treatment and therapy for cases involving drugs
- Mental health counseling
Colorado law lets a judge give broad terms and conditions of a sentence, as long as the conditions are “reasonably related” to the defendant’s rehabilitation.
Sentences to Prison and the Adams County Jail: What are Sentence Ranges?
While there are exceptions, normal sentence ranges are based on the class of felony or misdemeanor conviction in Adams County. Here is a summary.
· Class 1 Misdemeanor Sentence is 6 to 18 months in the Adams County Jail
· Class 2 Misdemeanor Sentence is 3 to 12 months in the Arapahoe County Jail
· Class 3 Misdemeanor Sentence is $50 to 6 months in the Douglas County Jail
· Class 1 Felony Range for a Sentence is Life to Death in Prison or DOC
· Class 2 Felony Range for a Sentence is 8 to 24 years in Prison or DOC
· Class 3 Felony Range for a Sentence is 4 to 12 years in Prison or DOC
· Class 4 Felony Range for a Sentence is 2 to 6 years in Prison or DOC
· Class 5 Felony Range for a Sentence is 1 to 3 years in Prison or DOC
· Class 6 Felony Range for a Sentence is 1 to 18 months in Prison or DOC
Call our sentencing lawyers for your criminal case and we can discuss ways to limit the potential county jail or prison sentence. Together, we can protect your future.