One of the most nerve-wracking and stressful phases of any trial is the sentencing phase. During this portion of the trial, a sentencing judge will consider a wide variety of factors in determining whether the defendant must face incarceration or other penalties. There are many rules that apply to sentencing that are designed to protect defendants from unfair sentences, or from facing penalties that exceed the scope of the alleged misconduct. As experienced New York City gun crime lawyers, the legal professionals at Tilem & Associates have the skills and knowledge it takes to navigate a sentencing hearing successfully and appropriately.
A recent appellate opinion highlights how important it is to understand the scope of your rights and available objections during a sentencing hearing. During the summer of 2011, a police officer was accused of raping, sodomizing, and sexually assaulting a schoolteacher in a courtyard area while off duty. The defendant used his police-issued firearm to threaten the victim, and evidence indicated that the weapon was loaded at the time the assault occurred. The defendant was charged with three counts of predatory sexual assault and three counts of a criminal sexual act in the first degree, and he was convicted of all of the charges. During sentencing, the defendant received a 25-year prison term with an additional 20 years of supervision after release for each of the counts of criminal sexual conduct and for each related count of predatory sexual assault. The sentence was to run consecutively, for a total of 75 years to life, with the sentence imposed for each criminal act running concurrently to the related conviction for predatory sexual assault.
The defendant appealed the consecutive sentencing, and the reviewing court upheld it, finding that the sentencing judge had a proper legal basis for imposing the consecutive sentences. It reasoned that while the convictions for predatory sexual assault involved similar criminal acts rendering concurrent sentences appropriate, the convictions for criminal sexual acts involved three distinct events, thereby justifying the consecutive sentencing.
The defendant had also appealed the sentence on the grounds that it was unconstitutionally excessive according to the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. After reviewing the record, the Appellate Division determined that the defendant had failed to properly preserve this objection and as a result waived his right to bring this argument on appeal. The defendant appealed this finding to a New York appellate court.
On review, the Appellate Court concluded that the defendant failed to preserve his cruel and unusual punishment claim for review on appeal. Based on its review of the record, the appellate court noted that the defendant objected generally to the sentence’s length but did not alert the sentencing judge that the defendant objected to it on constitutional grounds. As a result, the sentencing court was denied a chance to evaluate the constitutional challenges. The court also rejected the defendant’s many attempts at arguing that certain exceptions to a party’s failure to preserve an objection applied to his case.
At Tilem & Associates, our knowledgeable team of gun crime and drug offense lawyers has handled many sentencing hearings, assisting New York residents with ensuring that they receive fair and lawful treatment throughout the entire process. We know how stressful this process is for you and your family, and we will ensure that you receive the responsive, compassionate, and thorough legal representation that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-877-377-8666 or contact us online.