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Sentencing

What happens if the defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor crime?

In misdemeanor cases, the judge usually has information about the crime and the defendant's criminal record. The judge will usually sentence the defendant immediately after the trial or a guilty plea and may involve up to 1 year in jail, fines, and restitution.

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What happens if the defendant is convicted of a felony crime?

In some felony cases, the judge will order probation officers to prepare a presentence report that is used to inform the appropriate sentence. The report describes

There will be a sentencing hearing 3-4 months after the conviction so the probation has time to prepare the presentence report.

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What happens at the sentencing hearing?

If an open sentence, the court determines the appropriate sentence that a defendant must serve upon conviction of an offense(s). At the sentencing hearing:

The law requires the judge to consider:

The judge will decide whether to impose prison time, probation, fines, restitution and other requirements.

If the prosecutor offered a sentence through a plea agreement, the judge must still approve the sentence.

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What kinds of sentences are there?

The sentence may include:

For all offenses, there is a statutory maximum penalty. This means the law sets out the most serious penalty an offender can be sentenced to complete.

Some offenses have mandatory minimum penalties required by statute.

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What is a Suspended Entry of Judgment (SEJ)?

A suspended entry of judgment (SEJ) is a type of probationary sentence. The court may “defer further proceedings” and place the defendant on probation if:

The maximum term of probation depends on the defendant’s offense. The term is set by AS 12.55.090(c) and may be anywhere from 1 year for most misdemeanors to 15 years for a felony sex offense. The defendant must follow all conditions of probation. If so, the court will dismiss the criminal proceedings, including having the charge removed from the defendant’s record.

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How does the judge decide the sentence?

Judges base the sentence on many factors, including:

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When do defendants go to prison?

Judges sentence defendants to prison to protect the public, to express the community’s condemnation, or to deter (discourage) the defendant and others from committing similar acts. Most defendants convicted of serious felonies such as rape, manslaughter and murder must serve many years in jail. Defendants convicted of felonies such as burglary and assault often serve jail time, particularly if they have a history of other felonies. A few misdemeanors, such as drunk driving, require jail time.

Judges often combine prison with other requirements. The judge can sentence a defendant to jail and suspend (hold back) part of the time, placing the defendant on probation for the suspended time. If the defendant violates probation conditions, he or she may go back to prison to serve the suspended time.

Before trial and sentencing, many defendants spend time:

Pursuant to the law, the judge gives these defendants credit for time served, deducting the time spent waiting in these other setting from the total sentence. If the time spent waiting is about the length of an appropriate sentence, the judge may sentence an offender to time served and release him or her. If the offender is in jail for more than one offense, credit for time served applies to only one case.

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When do defendants get probation?

If it serves the best interests of the public and the defendant, a judge may place him or her on probation for a definite length of time up to 15 years. In some cases, the judge can sentence a defendant to probation instead of prison.

A felony offender must report to a probation officer regularly, and follow the court’s conditions and officer’s requirements. Probation officers can arrange for extra help such as job counseling, education, and housing. The probation officer alerts the court If the offender does not follow the probation conditions, and the judge will decide what restrictions the offender will have.

Misdemeanor offenders do not get probation officers. If a misdemeanor offender does not pay fines and meet the conditions of probation, the court can issue a bench warrant to bring the offender back to court.

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What kind of probation conditions are there?

The judge can set probation conditions related to the offense or to rehabilitation, including;

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What if the offender violates the probation conditions?

If the offender violates the probation conditions in a felony case, the probation officer can bring the offender back to court by filing a petition to revoke probation. The probation officer can arrest the offender before the hearing if the offender's conduct places the public or the victim at risk. At the revocation hearing, the government must prove that the offender violated one of the probation conditions. The offender can have an attorney at any court hearings. The judge can continue probation, can put more restrictions on the offender, or can revoke probation and send the offender to jail.

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Rev. 30 April 2019
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