Part Three: Sentencing, Victim Impact Statements and Appeals Sentencing
If a defendant is found guilty, the judge can sentence him or her immediately or set a future date for sentencing. The judge may ask for a pre-sentence investigation by the probation department. Before the Assistant District Attorney submits a sentencing recommendation, victims have the right to talk with both the prosecutor and the probation officer, who supervises a convicted offender, about the impact of the crime on you as a victim and about the proposed sentence recommendation. The prosecutor is required to tell the judge what you think of the sentence recommendation, and if the probation officer is unable to talk with you, he or she must tell the judge why in his or her report.
In Massachusetts, the judge is the person who decides what sentence to give the defendant. At the sentencing hearing, the defendant and his or her attorney have the right to present any mitigating circumstances that might cause the judge to lessen the punishment. Mitigating circumstances are factors that do not excuse a criminal act but which may reduce the severity of the sentence. Some crimes, including first and second degree murder convictions are punishable by mandatory sentences set by law.
In most crimes, the judge has a wide range of sentencing options to consider, including:
• placing a defendant on probation
• ordering the defendant to be jailed or imprisoned
• imposing a fine and/or restitution, or both
• requiring participation in rehabilitation and/ or treatment programs
• issuing a sentence involving some combination of these sanctions
Where there are more than one criminal charge in a single case, the judge can order that sentences for each crime be served at the same time (known as concurrent) or one after the other (known as consecutive).