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Will I go to jail if I’m convicted in my criminal case?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Most people who are facing criminal charges want an answer to this question. But it’s not always an easy one to answer. There are several factors that can come into play in your case that have an impact on the type and the severity of penalties that you’ll face. Although you might feel hopeless as you try to navigate your case and build an effective criminal defense, there are some strategies that you can utilize to try to protect your freedom.

But first, let’s look at factors that may contribute to your risk of incarceration. That way you have a better idea of what you’re up against in your criminal case.

Factors that come into play when jail or prison time is on the line

There may be more in play in your criminal case than you realize. In fact, each of the following could play a pivotal role in the type of penalties you’ll face, including whether you’ll be sent to jail or prison and, if so, for how long:

  • The type of crime in question: Most misdemeanor offenses result in penalties that exclude executed jail or prison time. If you’re convicted of a felony, though, then your chances of incarceration increase. The higher the level of the felony in question, the greater the risk that you’ll face more extensive jail or prison time.
  • The severity of the crime: Crimes that are more severe in nature are more likely to be punished with extensive periods of incarceration. Those crimes that are violent, for example, will be punished more severely than a drunk driving conviction.
  • Your criminal history: If you have an extensive criminal history, then the judge in your case might feel like a harsher penalty is necessary to deter you from subsequent criminal behavior. This could include incarceration. If this is your first offense, on the other hand, then you may be able to convince the judge to exercise leniency and impose penalties outside of jail or prison time.
  • Any remedial action you’ve taken on your own: While much of the criminal justice system is focused on punishing wrongdoing, there’s also a rehabilitative aspect. If you can show that you’ve already taken remedial action on your own, then the court may be less inclined to send you to jail.
  • Your remorse: How you respond to having been convicted of a crime can be telling to a judge. If you present as remorseful, then they may not feel the need to send you to jail or prison. If, on the other hand, you don’t seem to take accountability for your actions, then the court may feel like incarceration is necessary to stress upon you the importance of the offense committed.

Keep in mind that the court will be free to consider mitigating and aggravating circumstances. So, gain an understanding of these factors and how they might come into play in your case.

Is there anything you can do to reduce your risk of incarceration?

Possibly. As mentioned above, you can seek out treatment and other corrective action for the behaviors that led to your conviction. You can also present yourself to the court in a way that demonstrates real remorse.

But before you even get to the point of being convicted, you might be able to eliminate or at least reduce your risk of incarceration by engaging in effective plea bargaining. If you’re successful here, perhaps by showing the prosecution some of the weaknesses in its case, then you might obtain a conviction on lesser charges that carry far lighter penalties.

We know that facing criminal charges can be overwhelming and terrifying. But don’t let the process paralyze you into inaction. Instead, learn as much as you can about the criminal defense options available to you so that you can advocate for yourself as aggressively as possible. Hopefully then you can reduce your risk of conviction and minimize any penalties that are forced upon you if the prosecution wins their case.