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Defense Lawyer's Role in the Sentencing Process: You've Got To Accentuate the Positive and Eliminate the Negative

NCJ Number
Mercer Law Review Volume: 37 Issue: 3 Dated: (Spring 1986) Pages: 981-1004
J L Carroll
Date Published
24 pages
How the defense lawyer deals with the presentence investigation (PI) process can determine the outcome for the client.
It is defense counsel's job to minimize the aggravating circumstances and emphasize the mitigating circumstances, while also humanizing the defendant. If counsel does not do this, sentencing will be based on an aggravated PI report, and that report will follow the convicted individual throughout the criminal justice system and affect chances for parole and less restrictive custody. Defense can have a significant impact on the PI report by conducting a background investigation, working with probation and parole personnel preparing the PI report, dealing with the victims, preparing and presenting a defense PI report, and making timely legal attacks on erroneous information presented to the sentencing authority. By vigorously representing their clients at the sentencing phase, defense attorneys can help ensure that their clients lives are not ruined by unnecessary and undeserved punishment. 103 footnotes.