Sentencing (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The post-conviction stage of the criminal justice process, in which the defendant is brought before the court for the imposition of a penalty.
If a defendant is convicted in a criminal prosecution, the event that follows the verdict is called sentencing. A sentence is the penalty ordered by the court. Generally, the primary goals of sentencing are punishment, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation. In some states, juries may be entitled to pronounce sentence, but in most states, and in federal court, sentencing is performed by a judge.
For serious crimes, sentencing is usually pronounced at a sentencing hearing, where the prosecutor and the defendant present their arguments regarding the penalty. For violations and other minor charges, sentencing is either predetermined or pronounced immediately after conviction.
Sentencing in the United States has undergone several dramatic transformations. In the eighteenth century, the sentencing of criminal defendants was left to juries. If a defendant was convicted, the jury decided the facts that would affect sentencing, and a predetermined sentence was imposed based on those findings. In the late eighteenth century, legislatures began to prescribe imprisonment as punishment, replacing such punishments as public whipping and confinement in stocks.
Beginning in the late nineteenth...
(The entire section is 3423 words.)
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