How Do I Prepare for Sentencing?

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Start preparing for sentencing to restore confidence!

Dear Resilient Course Visitor:

When it comes to sentencing, statistics show some troubling realities: A sentencing hearing follows more than 85% of the time that federal authorities bring charges.

With those kinds of odds, it makes sense for every defendant to understand sentencing. Subscribe to our Reframe Course to stay up to date with best practices on how you can prepare. Our team offers insight that you can access on your own time, at your convenience. 

In the United States, we have 53 different criminal codes. Every state has its own criminal code. The District of Columbia has its own criminal code. The military has a criminal code. And the federal government has a criminal code. Each of those codes has a different sentencing system.

What can we learn from one jurisdiction to help us in another?

Besides different codes, venues and jurisdictions differ. In the federal system, for example, there are more than 90 different districts. Each district has several judges. Those judges rely upon the federal sentencing guidelines as an advisory resource. To prepare for sentencing, it’s wise to get an understanding of those guidelines. Still, judges have discretion, and defendants should work hard to influence sentencing decisions.

What does “preparing for sentencing” mean? First, the person must understand how the system operates. Many stakeholders influence the process. Consider what you should expect from each stakeholder, and then prepare accordingly.

Sentencing is personal. Prepare your story in ways that will counter mischaracterizations that you should expect from the prosecutor.

The truth is, no one can change the past. But anyone can start sowing seeds for a better future, and a better outcome. Rely upon Socratic questioning techniques to engineer your preparations. Build a solid strategy, given the facts at hand.

Preparing for a sentencing hearing should include a deliberate course of action. Create a plan with clearly defined priorities. For example: 

  1. I will write my assessment of every stakeholder that will influence the judge’s sentencing decision.
  2. I will game-theory strategies that will help me influence the process.
  3. I will create a series of tasks, with timelines, that advance my prospect as a candidate for leniency at sentencing. Some of those tasks include:
    1. Writing a personal story that explains how I got into this predicament,
    2. Launch a character-letter-writing campaign,
    3. Create a body of work that the judge may consider as a reason to grant mercy.

It’s never too early and it’s never too late to begin preparing for a better outcome. Rather than spiraling out of control, waiting for others to make decisions on your behalf, start working. Your actions will bring a sense of purpose. You’ll be on your way toward building a new life, leaving behind the troubling past and restoring confidence as you prepare. 

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