What Causes Sentencing Disparities?
A lot of us have heard stories about how a friend or a friend of a friend who was charged with the exact same crime that you might be charged with, but THEIR case got dismissed, or got a better plea, or some sort of less serious consequence than you’re looking at. So, what causes sentencing disparities?
First, breaking the law can be a lot like real estate, in the sense that location is everything. All counties have limited resources, and larger counties with higher crime rates need to be able to allocate their resources to focus on the higher number of violent offenses they have to deal with, which can make them more willing to resolve lower-level offenses with less supervision. In smaller counties, this isn’t the case. Smaller counties tend to have lower crime numbers generally, and lower jail populations to go along with it. As such, they’re a lot more capable of insisting on stricter sentences because they can provide the greater amount of supervision that this requires.
Second, criminal records are a HUGE factor in determining a sentence. If you have a long criminal history, eventually the State gets tired of dealing with you because you aren’t learning your lesson. Also, if you’ve been given an opportunity to serve your sentence on probation in the past but you had multiple violations or were revoked, it’s a lot less likely that the State is going to want to give you a better plea agreement.
Third, and this is the most important thing that explains sentencing disparities, every case is different, and there was probably something that you’re not aware of in your friend’s case that got you different results. If you’ve ever played the telephone game while you were in school, you know how quickly it is for information to get jumbled or confused the more times a story is told, or the more times it’s told by a person other than the original storyteller. It may be that there was a problem with your friend’s stop, or confession, or search, or some other fact that’s unique to HIS case but isn’t present in yours.
At the end of the day, the last thing that you want to do is compare your case to other people’s cases. If you have questions about why you’re getting a particular plea agreement (or not being offered the plea agreement that you think you should be getting), talk to your attorney. That’s what he’s there for.
At Razumich & Associates, our goal is to make sure that each of our clients receives the personalized attention that their cases deserve so that they can make the best possible decisions on important matters affecting their future. We personally meet with everyone who sets an appointment with our office, and we will take as long as necessary to make sure that every question you have is answered as completely as possible. That’s our promise to you: we’re Lawyers Ready to Fight, and we look forward to fighting for you.