Engaging the services of a qualified sentencing specialist as early in the process as possible will have the most significant impact on the outcome of the case.  For more information contact Utah Sentencing Alternatives today at (435) 773-8482.

To download this guide in pdf – click here.

12 Steps to the Best Possible Sentencing Outcome

STEP ONE: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MINDprepare client for sentencing from the beginning of the case

  • Client Versioncontributing factors (as identified by the client) to unlawful behavior
  • Goals & Plansactions taken to achieve them and/or minimize risk of future criminal conduct
  • Relevant Personal Factors & Informationsuch as: education, employment, military service, medical/psychological history, community contributions, unique talents or gifts, risk factors, and criminal history
  • Relevant Social Factors & Informationincluding: marital status, children/dependents, family – parents/siblings, & friends – peers

STEP TWO: DEMONSTRATE EMPATHYtake a walk in the client’s shoes…know where he or she comes from and what influences are most prevalent in their life


STEP FOUR: DEVELOP SENTENCING THEME reason for outcome (punishment, restoring the victim, rehabilitation, community protection, deterrence, etc) – sentencing options (worst/best case scenario) – outcome objective

STEP FIVE: DEVELOP STRATEGYidentify specific actions that if taken or implemented will minimize risk – including (but not limited to): substance abuse, mental health, sex offender, prime for life (educational series), & cognitive – behavioral (educational series), GED/high school diploma, obtain employment, no contact with victim, etc; identify specific people to ask for a collateral contact/reference letter; pre-plea sentencing report for use in plea negotiations (especially rule 11(h)(i)(2) cases)

STEP SIX: OBTAIN PROFESSIONAL ASSISTANCEengage professionals (sentencing specialist, private investigator, mental health professional, etc.) as appropriate

STEP SEVEN: PUT THE DEFENDANT TO WORKimplement the sentencing strategy, including: treatment, education, employment, gathering evidence, restitution, apology letter (if appropriate)

STEP EIGHT: CONDUCT PLEA NEGOTIATIONSconsistent with sentencing theme & strategy

STEP NINE: COLLECT EVIDENCE document & verify client progress throughout, don’t wait until the end; including: collateral contact letters & information, verification of treatment or education, contributions to community, etc – expert reports and/or sentencing memoranda

STEP TEN: PREPARE CLIENT FOR PROBATION (PSR) INTERVIEWattitude & behavioral tips – PSR packet completion and presentation of evidence collected

STEP ELEVEN: PREPARE CLIENT FOR SENTENCINGjudge’s sentencing practice & protocol – show of prosocial community support – attitude & behavioral tips Humility + Remorse + Accountability (restraint = do not respond or react inappropriately to statements by others, especially the victim or victim’s family

STEP TWELVE: PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SENTENCINGknow the case facts and be prepared to challenge & correct everything in the PSR – develop arguments in support of the sentence being proposed (when appropriate, deviate from defense-based sentencing report recommendations to bolster credibility of that document)

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