The Importance of Attention to Detail at Sentencingby Gamino Law Offices on 04/28/14
The need for rigorous attention to detail throughout a criminal sentencing process cannot be overstated. Even when all parties are of like mind as to the desired outcome, the complexity of the various statutes and regulations can give rise to mistakes that have serious consequences for the defendant. It can take months of floundering in various post-conviction procedures before the exact nature of the oversight and the proper channel of redress are identified. By that point, it is likely that the court officers who were involved have, at best, an imperfect recollection of the details. Meanwhile, the client languishes helplessly in confinement with extremely limited resources with which to exercise any influence over the outcome.
A client may attempt to take matters into his or her own hands by means of jail-house lawyering. Often these attempts at self-representation have the effect of worsening the situation. He or she may successfully persuade an official that an error has, in fact, been made. But that official might come to a diametrically opposed conclusion as to the nature of that error and the proper remedy. Instances in which clients actually receive more confinement time rather than less as a result of their efforts are not uncommon.
It is, of course, clear to the client that he or she has been given a sentence that is longer than it should have been. But attempting to bring this to the attention of any of the court officers involved in that process is bound to be met with a default posture of skepticism. After all, who is ever really "satisfied" with his or her prison sentence? Thus, very few officials within the criminal justice system have an active interest in making sure the defendant does not receive more confinement time than is appropriate. The criminal defense attorney is everything. Given the virtually infinite number of opportunities for error both in variety and degree of severity, there is no other actor within that arena that shoulders such a grave responsibility.