Most of my clients do not have a lot of experience with the criminal justice system. In fact, when I sit down for an initial consultation to go over their prior arrest record almost half of them have never been arrested for even a traffic offense. A diligent criminal defense lawyer or traffic defense lawyer will explain each step of the criminal process from bail to jail.
Nevertheless, defendants should educate themselves about the process especially since Illinois Compiled Statutes are available online. One area of the process that I spend a fair amount of time talking to clients about is the Sentencing Hearing. If a defendant enters a plea of guilty the trial court judge will proceed to sentencing. The judge will impose a sentence within the range of authorized. At the sentencing hearing, the Judge will consider:
- The evidence, if any, received upon the trial.
- Any presentence reports
- The financial impact of incarceration based on the financial impact statement filed with the clerk of the court by the Department of corrections.
- Evidence in aggravation and mitigation offered by the parties.
- Substance abuse treatment assessments and eligibility.
- Any arguments as to sentencing alternatives
- Any statement by the Defendant on his own behalf, which is also known as a statement of elocution.
- Any victim impact statements
- The results of any sex offender evaluations, if applicable.
- Whether a motor vehicle was used in the commission of the offense.
730 ILCS 5/5-4.1-1
In Illinois, there is a presumption of probation for many offenses. 730 ILCS 5/5-6-1. It is important that every defendant appreciates that a presumption does not mean her or she will receive probation. The Judge will also consider mitigating and aggravating factors when determining a sentence. 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1, 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2. Not all of the mitigating and aggravating factors listed in the statutes will be considered for every case, because some will not apply to every case.
For more information on these issues, check out the Illinois Statutes: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?ActID=1999&ChapterID=55&SeqStart=28500000&SeqEnd=29400000