Sentencing

Types of Sentences May be Imposed if a Person Is Found Guilty

After a judge or a jury renders a guilty verdict or after a defendant pleads guilty, a defendant will be sentenced by the judge. The judge may sentence a defendant to a term of imprisonment, impose a term of probation, a fine, a sentence of probation before judgment (PBJ) or a combination of two or more of these options. Sentencing is governed by statutes that reflect the specific penalties that are available in the event of conviction. These statutes may include, for some offenses, mandatory minimum periods of incarceration, as well as maximum periods of incarceration that a court may sentence the defendant. The judge must also consider applicable sentencing guidelines, which refers to a uniform policy that gives the judge some guidance in imposing an appropriate sentence. In determining an appropriate sentence that falls within the statutory range and also gives consideration to the applicable sentencing guidelines, the judge will examine such circumstances as the nature of the crime and the defendant’s participation in it, the defendant’s previous criminal background, if any, and any other aggravating or mitigating factors that may exist. In determining an appropriate sentence, judges often rely on a Pre-Sentencing Investigation (PSI) conducted by the Maryland Department of Parole and Probation. In District Court cases, sentencing is usually held on the day of the guilty finding. In Circuit Court cases, sentencing is usually held 30 to 45 days after the guilty finding.