What Factors are Used for Sentencing?

What Factors are Used for Sentencing?

Judges use a variety of factors when deciding a sentence. But judges are limited by the statute under which you were convicted and often have to take other sentencing laws and guidelines into account as well. In this article, we’re going to enumerate some of the major factors that might affect your sentence.


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Prior Record

Prior records will usually have an effect on sentencing. Prior conduct is something judges put a lot of importance on. For instance, in DUI cases, your prior offenses will have a direct effect on your sentence. The biggest mitigating circumstance in any case would be a record that would indicate that there is little to no risk of recidivism. Judges will be more lenient with someone if this is their first offense. Another thing you have to take into consideration is whether the crime was committed while the defendant was on bail. Committing a crime while on bail is an aggravating factor which will usually result in a longer sentence.

Resistance of Compliance During Arrest

A lot of people aren’t aware of the importance their attitude at the time of their arrest has on their sentencing. Judges will look at police reports and will sometimes ask for testimony from an officer to get a sense of how you reacted at the time of your arrest. They will also check if your demeanour in court is congruent with your attitude during your arrest. Any sign of incongruence will be seen unfavourably.

Demeanour in Court

Any criminal attorney will tell you that having the right demeanour in court can make a world of difference when it comes to sentencing. One of the first things judges will look for are signs of remorse. If you show contempt and no signs of remorse in your testimony and demeanour, these are all aggravating factors that will usually translate into a harsher sentence.  Judges will also check your demeanour towards the court staff and will also check if you’re unruly. Diminishing the dignity of the court is a sure fire way to ruin any chances of getting a favourable sentence.

Role in the Crime

Your role in the said crime will have a direct influence on the sentence. If you played a minor role and can show that you were somehow coerced into participating in the act, your sentence will be more favourable. But if you had a leadership role in the offence, you will usually have a harsher sentence.

Victim’s Vulnerability

In some cases, the victim’s vulnerability will be taken into consideration as well. For instance, crimes against children or schemes targeting the elderly may be seen as aggravating factors and will incur harsher sentences. Also, crimes against the disabled, either physically or mentally, can incur harsher sentences as well.


It’s very important to understand mitigating and aggravating factors prior to sentencing so you can understand it thoroughly. You will also be able to work better with your defence team and refrain from making mistakes that could result in a harsher sentence.