Should you be found guilty of a criminal charge such as tax evasion, white collar crime, or drug charges, you will be scheduled to attend a mandatory sentencing hearing. It will be in your best interest to have your criminal lawyer present during the hearing. The sentencing hearing is the best opportunity for your lawyer to present certain things about you. For example, who you are and why you may have committed the offence.
If there are sympathetic circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, this will be the best time for your criminal lawyer to present these facts to the judge. For example, in Toronto, if you are charged with drug possession, the court will determine the defendant’s sentence based on the quantity and type of drug in question. It is your criminal lawyer’s job to get you the best possible sentence.
At the sentencing hearing, the victim(s) can read a Victim Impact Statement and if admissible, your criminal history will be presented. This is also the time when the court will allow best arguments from your criminal lawyer and the prosecutor.
After careful consideration, the judge will impose a sentence, which may include a jail or prison term, probation, community service, victim restitution, or a fine. The amount of the fine or the length of imprisonment entered against you must be within a range according to the type of offense. Judges do not have the legal authority to impose sentences outside these statutory limits.