Criminal Law

A Traverse City criminal lawyer talks about sentencing errors in the 86th District Court

What is in this video

In every criminal case, before the judge renders a sentence, the defendant and his attorney have an opportunity to speak to the judge in court.  In this video, I discuss what a defendant should and shouldn’t say to a judge during a sentencing hearing.  A defendant that makes sentencing errors can get more jail time.  What a defendant says to a judge is important, it is how a defendant earns leniency from the judge. I explain what a district court judge wants to hear from a defendant and discuss errors I have seen people make when talking to a judge at sentencing.  I am a Traverse City criminal attorney, I have practiced law since 2001, I have handled over 800 cases in the 86th District court, I have participated and watched a lot of people speak to the judge at sentencing.  

The six sentencing errors I see people make when speaking to a judge. 

It is difficult to speak to a judge in court.  Most people do not know what to say to a judge in court, particularly during a criminal sentencing hearing.  As a Traverse City criminal defense lawyer, it is my job to make sure my clients say the right things in court.  I always coach and guide my clients to make sure they don’t screw up their opportunity to secure leniency. 

“I made a mistake.”

I made a mistake is what middle school kids tell the principal.  Without more, just telling the judge that you made a mistake does not appeal to the judge. 

The litigator

This person still wants to argue the facts and circumstances of their arrest and conviction.  The message sent to the judge is that this person doesn’t want to accept responsibility or make changes in their life to make sure they don’t end up in court again.  The judge will think this person will not take their probation seriously. 

Honesty cloaked as justification

This person wants to be honest and tell the judge all the facts that lead to their arrests. This person will spend all their time explaining the facts in an effort to get the judge to agree with them and go easy on them.  They seek justification for what they did.  What happens is this person fails to address what the judge wants to hear. 

Denial of drug and alcohol problems

This person doesn’t demonstrate a willingness to get sober or make changes in their life because they don’t believe the expert’s assessment of a drug or alcohol problem. 

No big picture analysis

This person fails to use information outside of the court’s knowledge to demonstrate the impact of this conviction upon their family.  Talking about the impact of the conviction on family members demonstrates strong motivation to make changes and never harm loved ones again. 

Reaction to the victim

In assaultive cases, like a Domestic Violence or simple Assault and Battery case, the victim has an opportunity to be heard by the sentencing judge.  Reacting to the victim’s statement can really upset a judge. 

About the Author: 

Matthew Benedict is a Traverse City criminal lawyer in Traverse City serving clients in all of Northern and Western Michigan.  Call today for an appointment.  2318834170

Please visit my criminal law blog here.

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