If you are facing a criminal charge, it's important to remember that a conviction or a guilty plea is not the end of the legal process. The legal process is a long one, and includes things like sentencing, probation, and even collateral consequences that all come after a trial, if you are found to be guilty.
A solid criminal defense attorney is a necessity for all of these aspects of the criminal justice system. However, having a good lawyer on your side is probably the most important for the sentencing process, where there is still plenty of opportunity to ensure your interests are protected.
One of the ways that a criminal defense attorney can help during sentencing is by urging the court to suspend some or even most of your jail time. This can let you serve your time without being behind bars, allowing you to be with your family, at your job, and enjoying your life.
How Suspended Sentences Work
If you get convicted for a relatively serious crime, one of the common punishments is jail or prison time. However, there are several reasons why a judge might not want to have you spend all of that time behind bars. Jails are overcrowded, he or she might believe that you don't deserve to sit in prison, or that you adequately regret your actions and clearly wouldn't commit another crime and therefore, don't pose much of a risk to reoffend.
If this is the case, a judge can suspend all or a part of your jail sentence. Instead of having you go to jail, a suspended sentence skips the incarceration and goes straight to probation. However, the jail time that is being skipped still hangs – or suspends – over your head in case you don't follow through on your probation requirements.
If you have a suspended sentence, and then make a mistake on your probation, you can find yourself having to serve some or all of the jail time that was originally suspended. It's also important to note that probationers have less rights than persons accused of a crime and that's because they gave up many of their pre-conviction rights on the day they pled guilty to the crime. Therefore, while a suspended sentence with probation may be a good deal for some people, for others, it might be a recipe for failure. Always discuss your options with your attorney when deciding to accept a plea agreement or go to trial.
How Criminal Defense Attorneys Help Get Suspended Sentences
If avoiding jail time is a crucial part of your defense, criminal defense attorneys can help in a variety of ways. Each judge has unique tendencies that experienced defense attorneys are aware of, and focus on when arguing for suspended sentences. Additionally, your criminal background is a huge factor in whether a judge will suspend a jail term or not. If it was your first offense and your background is otherwise very clean, your chances of receiving a suspended sentence increase.
Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly
Attorney William T. Bly was recently recognized as one of Maine's top criminal defense lawyers. He has earned his reputation by fighting for the rights and interests of his clients before, during, and after a trial. Call his law office at (207) 571-8146 or contact him online.