Know your right for a fair sentence in court

When you’re going to be sentenced for a crime, you want to know that you’re going to receive a punishment that is fair based on the crime committed. If you’ve made a plea or have been convicted of charges, the sentencing hearing is the moment where your defense will either show its benefit or failure.

During the sentencing hearing, you can attempt to convince the judge why you deserve a particular sentence. Maybe you would like to seek probation instead of jail time, or you would rather have house arrest instead of a prison sentence. Suggesting these punishments in the right way could be convincing, but only if you can make the judge understand why you’re someone who deserves that chance.

Maryland’s sentencing policies are not mandatory. The sentences suggested are advisory, which means that a judge has the right and potential to sentence you differently. Your crime may have a minimum sentence guideline suggesting two years in prison, but a judge who understands your case and why you participated in a crime could change that sentence to better suit you and rehabilitation or other self-help treatment outside prison.

The Judicial Committee on Sentencing set an expectation that around two-thirds of all sentences should fall within recommended sentencing ranges when it was first established. Now, the goal is for around 65 percent of cases to fall within those ranges. This gives judges more leeway to help you get a sentence you deserve instead of one that has been predetermined. Our website has more information about sentencing policies in Maryland, so you can get a good idea of how you could be affected.