What happens at a sentencing hearing?
The judge makes a decision about what the appropriate consequences for your conviction will be.
What information can I give the judge that might help at sentencing?
At sentencing you may speak (or write a letter) on your own behalf. You may also have friends or family speak (or write letters) on your behalf. At sentencing it is appropriate to accept responsibility for your actions and apologize. If you feel uncomfortable doing this, or feel that it is inaccurate in your circumstance, you should not say anything. You are not required to speak at your sentencing.
The Judge ordered me to get a pre-sentence investigation done, what does this mean?
A pre-sentence investigation is performed by the court's probation department. Generally, you are interviewed by a probation officer who will then make a recommendation to the judge for your sentence.
Will I be taken to jail from the courtroom at my sentencing?
Sometimes, yes, but not generally. It is more common for a court to give you a commitment date by which you have to turn yourself in to the jail.
Do I have to tell my employer about my case?
No, the court does not require this, but you will likely need to miss work to appear at your court hearings. In addition, you should check any employment contracts you may have to see if it is required.
If I am convicted will I lose my job?
It depends. Your employer may require that you have a clean criminal record. Additionally, if your job requires you to carry a firearm and you are prohibited from doing so by your conviction, you would lose your job.
Do I have to tell my parents/spouse/partner/friends?
No, you are not required to tell anyone.
If I don't tell them, will they find out?
Possibly, the court will likely send notices of court dates to your home in the mail and they may call your home and leave a message about your court date. Your case is part of the public record and available to anyone who wishes to pull the court records.
Would getting letters from my friends or family saying I am a good person help my case?
Possibly. You can always provide these letters to your attorney who can use them if and when they become helpful.
How long will it take to get this behind me?
Generally, a criminal case takes between three and six months to be resolved after charges are filed. You could then be on probation for a period of time after that.
Will it stay on my permanent record?
Yes, there will be a permanent record of your arrest, charge, and conviction if any.
Can I have this removed from my record?
Possibly, under certain circumstances. Talk to your attorney about this.
Can I go to Canada?
Possibly. Canada reserves the right to prohibit entry to people convicted of criminal charges. We have a Canadian attorney we recommend to our clients to help resolve issues of entering Canada.
I am not a U.S. citizen, how will this affect my immigration status?
Criminal charges have very serious immigration consequences. It is crucial that your attorney knows you are not a citizen and that your attorney either understands the potential immigration consequences or consults with an immigration attorney on your case.