Identify the general factors that influence a judge's sentencing decisions.
In sentencing, judges are limited by statutory provisions; guided by prevailing philosophical rationales, organizational considerations, and presentence investigation reports; and influenced by their own personal characteristics.
Describe how judges tailor sentences to fit the crime and the offender.
Judges have several ways to tailor sentences to fit the crime and the offender. They can impose a combination sentence of imprisonment, probation, and a fine. They can suspend the imprisonment portion of a combination sentence, or they can suspend the entire sentence if the offender stays out of trouble, makes restitution to the victim, or seeks medical treatment. Judges can give offenders credit for time spent in jail while awaiting trial, deducting that time from any prison sentence. A judge may even impose a sentence of "time served" and release the offender. When an offender is convicted of two or more crimes, a judge can order the prison sentences to run concurrently or consecutively. Judges can also delay sentencing and retain the right to impose a sentence at a later date if conditions warrant it.
Distinguish between indeterminate and determinate sentences.
An indeterminate sentence has a fixed minimum and maximum term of incarceration, rather than a set period. A determinate sentence, on the other hand, has a fixed period of incarceration and eliminates the decision-making responsibility of parole boards.
Explain the three basic types of determinate sentences.
There are three basic types of determinate sentences: flat-time, mandatory, and presumptive. With flat-time sentencing, judges may choose between probation and imprisonment but have little discretion in setting the length of a prison sentence. With mandatory sentencing, a specified number of years of imprisonment (usually within a range) is provided for particular crimes. Mandatory sentencing generally allows credit for good time but does not allow release on parole. Presumptive sentencing allows a judge to retain some sentencing discretion (subject to appellate review). It requires a judge to impose the normal sentence, specified by statute, on a "normal" offender who has committed a "normal" crime. However, if the crime or the offender is not normal—if there are mitigating or aggravating circumstances—then the judge is allowed to deviate from the presumptive sentence.
List five rationales or justifications for criminal punishment.
Five rationales or justifications for criminal punishment are retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration.
Explain the purposes of presentence investigation reports.
Presentence investigation reports (PSIs) help judges determine the appropriate sentences for particular defendants. PSIs are also used in the classification of probationers, parolees, and prisoners according to their treatment needs and their security risks.
List the legal bases for appeal.
Defendants can appeal their convictions either on legal grounds (such as defects in jury selection, improper admission of evidence at trial, mistaken interpretations of law) or on constitutional grounds (such as illegal search and seizure, improper questioning of the defendant by the police, identification of the defendant through a defective police lineup, and incompetent assistance of counsel).
Identify the type of crime for which death may be a punishment.
In the United States, death is the ultimate punishment. At the state level, death can be imposed only for the crime of aggravated murder and a few other seldom-committed offenses.
Summarize the three major procedural reforms the U.S. Supreme Court approved for death penalty cases in the Gregg decision.
The three major procedural reforms the Court approved in Gregg were bifurcated trials, guidelines for judges and juries to follow, and automatic appellate review.