California criminal law invests judges with a wide amount of discretion when it comes to sentencing convicted defendants. Whether the law
- sets forth three different sentencing options (for example, two, three or four years),
- establishes outer limits (such as 90 to 180 days), or
- simply provides a maximum sentence (for example, no more than six months in a county jail),
the judge chooses just how lenient or severe the actual sentence will be. And he/she makes that decision due in part to the arguments that both sides present during the California sentencing hearing.
A California sentencing hearing takes place once a defendant has been convicted (either by plea or by a jury). Both sides are permitted to argue the merits of their case so that the judge might impose the sentence that they feel is appropriate.
This is simply another reason why having an experienced California criminal defense attorney is so important. A skilled lawyer knows the most effective ways to win favor with the judge so that their clients aren’t unduly punished.