After a guilty plea or after a jury delivers a guilty verdict, it is up to the judge to determine your sentence. When doing this, the judge has to weigh a number of different factors.
First, there are a few minimums and maximums set by state law, and other factors, such as the nature of the crime and previous convictions, also come into play.
All of this means that determining a sentence is not an exact science, and judges get it wrong all the time. Luckily, if you feel as though your sentence is excessive or incorrect, you can try to get the courts to lower it.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting the court to lower your sentence in Maryland.
What Does Lowering a Sentence Look Like in Maryland?
First off, when we talk about lowering a sentence, we’re talking about pursuing a very specific set of legal actions, mainly a removal of a conviction or a sentence modification.
Removal of Conviction
As the name suggests, this approach is meant to try and get certain convictions stricken from your record. This means asking the judge for a Probation Before Judgment, which means guilty but not convicted. This is a prerequisite for most expungements.
The other option is to have your original sentence reduced. You can do this by getting a judge to review your case and lower your sentence based on things such as good conduct while incarcerated.
During these cases, it’s important to demonstrate that the original sentence was too much, and that reducing it will not lead to repeated offense.
How to Get the Court to Lower Your Sentence in Maryland
If you want to get your sentence lowered in Maryland, there are a few steps you must take. You can do this on your own, but given the complexity of the proceedings, as well as the stakes, it’s best to hire legal counsel.
Appeal Your Case: Within 30 days of sentencing
The very first thing you can do to try and lower your sentence is to appeal your case, something you can only do in the weeks after the initial verdict is handed down.
Appealing is a constitutional right after a trial, and it will allow you to have your entire case reviewed by another court, which may eventually lead to a sentence reduction or modification.
Have Your Case Reviewed By a Three-Judge Panel: Within 30 Days of Sentencing
Another thing you can do in the immediate aftermath of your trial or plea is to request your case to be reviewed by a three-judge panel. This too must be petitioned for within 30 days of sentencing.
In these instances, the panel will review the case and determine if the sentencing issued by the original judge was correct. The risk is that the panel could increase your sentence.
File a Motion of Sentence Modification: Within 90 Days of Sentencing
You have the option of filing for a Motion of Sentence Modification.
These must be filed within 90 days of sentencing. However, it’s important to remember that filing for this motion is just the first step.
The second thing you must do is request a hearing, which you can do at any time. Choosing the right moment for this is critical, for doing so too soon might not give you enough time to prove to the judge you deserve to be released early, and waiting too long could mean spending unnecessary time in prison.
At a hearing, we can subpoena records and witnesses, just like at a sentencing hearing.
If you are able to get your sentence reduced, then you will want to consider also pursuing expungement. When you get your record expunged, it means certain convictions will become hidden from the public. This will remove some of the barriers that make it hard to transition back to life after incarceration, making it easier for you to get your life back on track.
Speak with your lawyer to find out if this is a path worth pursuing in your case.
Hire an Attorney to Help You Reduce Your Sentence
When facing a sentence for a crime, it can be daunting. But know that there is hope. As you move through the legal process, there will be multiple opportunities for you to have your sentence reduced.
To help you through this process and keep you from serving time you don’t need to serve, get in contact with the attorneys at Jezic & Moyse. We’re here to help. See a Washington Post article about a very significant reduction in a sentence in a high-profile case, spearheaded by Rand Lucey.
In a murder case, Mr. Jezic recently convinced a Prince Georges County judge to reduce the sentence of his client by 40 years.