Judge and lawyer discussing the sentence for prisoner

What to Expect During Sentencing

Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III  Oct. 26, 2023

If you've already been charged with a crime for which you either believe or know you're guilty, you're likely experiencing anxiety about the impending sentencing process. However, many individuals confronting criminal charges lack a clear understanding of what this process entails and what to anticipate. If you're seeking insight and guidance on how to prepare for your sentencing, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III. Tom Cox provides legal representation to clients in Irving, Mesquite, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, University Park, and Dallas, Texas, spanning across Dallas County. 

When Does Sentencing Occur?

Understanding what to expect during sentencing is crucial for anyone facing criminal charges, although the timing may vary depending on the nature of the charges. In more serious cases, typically involving felony charges, the sentencing phase occurs after a full trial and the jury delivers its verdict. Conversely, for those facing misdemeanor charges, sentencing might happen relatively early in the legal process. 

For example, upon your initial arrest, you'll typically attend an arraignment within one to two days. At the arraignment, you can enter a plea before the judge. If you plead guilty or no contest, in many cases, the judge will promptly deliver your sentence, sparing you from additional legal proceedings other than fulfilling the terms of your punishment. 

What Happens During Sentencing?  

If you've gone through a full trial and the jury has found you guilty, the judge will schedule a separate sentencing hearing. This hearing is distinct from the original trial, and the jury does not participate. While the jury determines the verdict, they do not influence your sentence. 

During the sentencing hearing, the judge will review presentence reports from both sides, sometimes allowing victim statements. The defendant usually has the opportunity to address the court with a statement. These statements cannot alter the verdict but may influence the judge to issue a milder sentence, still within the state's guidelines. For example, expressing remorse and taking full responsibility for your actions could lead the judge to show leniency.  

How Is the Sentence Determined?

Although the judge does decide on the sentence after the jury has deliberated and delivered their verdict, they have to do so using certain criteria set by the state. The judge must follow Texas sentencing guidelines but they can also take other factors into consideration such as: 

  • The criminal history of the defendant 

  • The severity of the crime, especially if there was a victim 

  • The amount of remorse and regret you show during the trial 

  • Any mitigating factors that may have caused you to commit the crime such as personal hardships   

The state of Texas also uses determinate sentencing which links certain sentencing standards for each crime. For example, for a specific crime there may be a sentencing option of between 12 and 24 months and a judge must choose from within this range. 

Seek Trusted Legal Defense

When you're facing a criminal charge, it's imperative to have a competent lawyer by your side throughout the entire process. If you're in the Dallas, Texas region, don't hesitate to reach out to the Law Offices of Thomas R. Cox III to explore your legal options and receive the support you need. Tom Cox has a deep understanding of criminal defense and will work diligently to protect your rights and effectively represent your interests. If you're looking for support, reach out to our office in Macon, Georgia, to schedule a free consultation.