When a person is convicted of a crime, it is not the end of their case. A very important proceeding follows: the sentencing proceeding. This is when it is decided what specific penalties a person will be given for their conviction. The options available for judges for sentences here in Wisconsin can be pretty wide-ranging. This creates a potential for a fair amount of variation in sentencing between judges.
A recent analysis discussed in an Appleton Post-Crescent article indicates that the state’s judges vary considerably in their sentencing habits. The analysis looked at the sentencing decisions the state’s circuit court judges made between 2005 and 2014 when it came to 12 common felony offenses.
The analysis found big gaps between the average sentences issued by judges who trended harsher and the ones issued by judges who trended more lenient. For example, when it came to felony narcotic drug possession, the average length of the prison sentences issued by the harshest judges was several times the average length of the sentences issued by the most lenient judges.
The Appleton Post-Crescent article asserts that differences in judicial philosophies are one of the big contributors to this high degree of sentencing variation among Wisconsin judges.
As a note, there are a wide range of things in addition to the judicial philosophy of the judge making a sentencing decision that can have big impacts in sentencing proceedings, including local circumstances and the specific state rules regarding the charge a person was convicted of.
Thus, sentencing is not some standard thing in which every proceeding will involve more or less the same types of issues. Each individual sentencing proceeding has its own particular set of circumstances, such as who the judge in the proceeding is, that could potentially have a big impact on outcome. Skilled defense attorneys can help individuals convicted of crimes here in Wisconsin with tailoring their arguments in their sentencing proceeding to their proceeding’s unique circumstances.