sentence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

A sentence is a punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime.

In the criminal justice system, a sentence is a punishment that a judge orders for a defendant who has been found guilty of a crime. They may include imprisonment, fines, community service, probation, restitution, or a combination of these. The sentencing process is guided by various factors, including the nature and severity of the crime, the offender’s criminal history, the impact of the crime on the victim and the community, and any relevant laws and sentencing guidelines.

The goal of sentencing is to ensure that justice is served and that society is protected. In some cases, it may be intended to deter others from committing similar crimes, while in other cases, the focus may be on rehabilitation and reintegrating the offender into society. It should be proportionate to the offense and reflect the offender’s level of culpability.

The judge has discretion in determining the sentence but must follow the guidelines established by law. The guidelines may include mandatory minimums for certain offenses, as well as recommended ones based on the severity of the crime and the offender’s criminal history. The judge may also consider mitigating or aggravating factors that could affect it, such as the offender’s age, mental state, or level of cooperation with law enforcement.

Once the sentence is imposed, the offender may have the opportunity to appeal it if they believe there was an error or injustice in the sentencing process. However, the appeal process is typically limited to reviewing whether the sentence was lawful and reasonable under the circumstances.

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Last Modified: 04/06/2023


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