In Texas, if an individual is convicted of any criminal offense, the actual criminal penalties they may face can vary significantly. Judges and juries have substantial discretion in the sentencing of criminal offenders, allowing human judgment to play an important role in the criminal sentencing process. However, Texas sentencing guidelines do provide a basic framework under which an offender’s punishment can be determined.
Generally speaking, sentencing guidelines in Texas compel judges and juries to take into account an individual’s prior criminal record, as well as the severity of the offense for which they have been convicted. These sentencing guidelines necessarily leave substantial latitude for other considerations to influence the penalties that the individual may ultimately face. However, there are restrictions on the degree to which discretion can be allowed to influence criminal sentencing. These restrictions include:
- Mandatory minimum sentences, which require a criminal sentence to meet a minimum standard of severity or length.
- Individuals cannot be sentenced with penalties in excess of those specified by the law (a crime that carries a maximum penalty of ten years cannot be punished with a longer penalty if no other mitigating factors, such as prior criminal record, are involved).
In light of how much an individual’s ultimate punishment can be determined at the sentencing stage of a case, it is essential that those who have been charged with any criminal violation in Texas have experienced legal representation on their side. If you have been charged with a crime in Austin, contact Ian Inglis today at (512) 472-1950 to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer and learn more about what he can do to help you.