If you’ve been charged with a crime, you may be feeling hopeless at the prospect of spending a certain amount of your future behind bars. However, while the law assigns certain penalties to certain types of crimes, there is still some flexibility for reducing your sentence—both before and after conviction.
Today we examine a few common ways of getting your sentence reduced:
- You accept a plea bargain. In some cases, the prosecution may offer you a plea bargain. This is a deal whereby you agree to plead guilty to a lesser crime, and in exchange, the state foregoes a trial for the original—more serious—crime you were charged with. The decision to accept—or reject—a plea bargain should not be taken lightly. Consult with your lawyer to understand the strength of your case and other deciding factors.
- You help the government out. This option applies to federal crimes. Let’s say you were charged with drug possession, but this infraction was part of a nation-wide drug trafficking operation. You could earn a reduced sentence in exchange for providing the government with critical information to support the larger case of greater interest. It’s highly advisable to consult with your attorney before pursuing this option.
- You have a mental health defense. You can receive a lower sentence if you can demonstrate that you had—or have—diminished mental capacity at the time of the crime. Serious mental illness can fall under this category, as well as limited capacity that was only temporary—such as being drugged and consequently unaware of your actions.
- You demonstrate good behavior. Once incarcerated, you can still earn a reduction in your sentence by complying with prisoner rules and expectations. Under Illinois law, you can drop one day off of your sentence for each day of good behavior you exhibit.
Finding some leeway in sentencing can be a window of opportunity. An experienced criminal defense attorney can advise you on the full gamut of sentence reduction options available to your case.