A sentence hearing is known as an opportunity to reduce punishments and penalties after being convicted of a crime. One of two things must happen in order to go into a sentence hearing. 1. the defendant enters a guilty plea or a a no contest plea to one criminal charge. or 2. is convicted by at least one charge by the jury or judge. The judge has to impose a sentence or a judgement. However before he/she does both parties (the defense and prosecutor) have the right to be heard to argue what they believe is the proper penalty (which is the sentence hearing). Depending on the crimes committed sentence hearings have deadlines. For misdemeanors the sentence hearing must be had after 6 hour but before 5 days (after the guilty plea/no contest plea/verdict). The deadline can be extended if the defendant waives the time frame. However the time frame itself could be extended if there were special circumstances. That could include motion for a new trial, defendant was insane, or waiting for a probation recommendation. For misdemeanor cases sentence hearings may sometimes can happen immediately after the verdict/guilty plea/no contest plea. For felonies, the sentence hearings must be made within 20 days of the verdict/pleas. And for the same reasons as misdemeanors, could be extended up to 30 days.
If the sentence hearing is not done immediately after the verdict/plea the judge can keep the defendant in jail. Order the defendant who is not in custody go to jail. or requires the defendant to be on bail to make sure he/she comes for the sentence hearing. In sentence hearings, the rules are different when compared to jury trials. In comparison the sentence hearings are more informal. The judge will allow the attorneys of both parties to argue and listen to the judge’s reasons for making a judgement. If the parties feel differently the judge must be willing to consider objections and options.
If you or someone you know wants to have an appropriate penalty, talk to an attorney that can lend a hand. Its important to know that you always have a fighting chance.