When an individual is charged and convicted of a crime, one of the first
questions that is often asked is what the sentence will be. The answer
in nearly every case is different. In order to fashion an appropriate
sentence, trial court judges in the Ohio are guided by sentencing statutes
that explain the purposes of felony sentencing and establish the penalty
ranges for an offense. The criminal defense attorney is tasked with advocating
to convince the judge to impose the lowest appropriate sentence. A lawyer
often achieves this goal by telling a story that weaves together statutory
considerations with a defendant's personal history and characteristics.
The general purposes of felony sentencing are set forth in Ohio Revised
Code § 2929.11(A), which states as follows:
The overriding purposes of felony sentencing are to protect the public
from future crime by the offender and others and to punish the offender
using the minimum sanctions that the court determines accomplish those
purposes without imposing an unnecessary burden on state or local government
resources. To achieve those purposes, the sentencing court shall consider
the need for incapacitating the offender, deterring the offender and others
from future crime, rehabilitating the offender, and making restitution
to the victim of the offense, the public, or both.
This statute goes on to explain that a sentence should also be "commensurate
with and not demeaning to the seriousness of the offender's conduct
and its impact upon the victim, and consistent with sentences imposed
for similar crimes committed by similar offenders."
R.C. § 2929.11(B).
R.C. § 2929.12 then sets forth additional factors to be considered. These factors include
considering "the seriousness of the conduct," "the likelihood
of the offender's recidivism," and "any other factors that
are relevant to achieving those purposes and principles of sentencing."
R.C. § 2929.12(A). When imposing a sentence, a trial court must consider
the principles and purposes of sentencing in R.C. § 2929.11
balance the seriousness and recidivism factors under R.C. § 2929.12.
In practical terms, a defendant's presentation at a sentencing hearing
should touch on three themes: (1.) what is different about the defendant's
life, (2.) what led the defendant to commit a crime, and (3.) why is the
defendant unlikely to commit offenses in the future. Prior to the sentencing
hearing, the trial court judge will know little—if anything—about
a defendant's personal life. The court will likely only know whether
the defendant has prior criminal convictions and the basic facts surrounding
the offense of conviction. The criminal defense lawyer should tell the
defendant's story by elaborating on the person's family history,
education, employment, and physical and mental health, just to name a
few. More often than not, a successful defense presentation at a sentencing
hearing distinguishes the defendant from all others who have previously
stood before the judge.
Contact Ian N. Friedman Today
If you have questions regarding felony sentencing in Ohio, or if you or
a friend or family member has been charged with a criminal offense, please
contact the Ohio criminal defense attorneys at the law firm of Ian N. Friedman. Our experienced team of defense lawyers
are prepared to consult with you and answer any questions you may have.