Case Types | Case Management | Trial Process | Sentencing | Glossary
On October 1, 1983, State Sentencing Guidelines went into effect for all felony criminal cases. The Sentencing Guidelines have two goals: First, to set up a framework for determination of sentence that aids judges in structuring sentences without eliminating judicial discretion. Second, to ensure that defendants who are sentenced for similar crimes and have similar backgrounds, receive similar punishment. The guidelines are based on two factors: the seriousness of the charge and the offenders criminal history. When a judge chooses to depart from the guidelines he should state his reasons.
The Sentencing Guidelines apply to felony criminal cases only. Misdemeanor criminal cases remain within the discretion of the trial judge. !n misdemeanor cases the trial judge may impose any sentence within the minimum and maximum range provided by state law for a conviction.
In 1994, State law was changed to require persons convicted of criminal offenses to serve a minimum of 85% of the sentence imposed by the court.