What sentencing choices exist in today's criminal justice system?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are a number of sentencing choices in today’s criminal justice system.  Within each of these choices, of course, there is a broad continuum of choices.  Sentencing statutes typically limit the degree of choice that judges have in a given type of case.

The main sentencing choices are community service, fines, restitution, probation, and incarceration.  In some states, there is also the choice of the death penalty for a few of the most horrific crimes.  Within any of these choices (with the exception of the death penalty, of course) there are more severe and less severe options.  A judge might be able to choose to give someone anywhere from 5 years to 10 years when they are convicted of a given crime.  These are choices as well.  Finally, it is not necessary to choose only one of these types of sentence (again, the death penalty is different).  A judge might impose fines, prison time, and then probation on a defendant.

Thus, community service, fines, restitution, prison time, and (in some cases) death, are the main choices for sentencing in today’s criminal justice system.

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