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Sentencing in Somerset DUI Cases

Sentencing in DUI cases often takes place immediately after the hearing is concluded. If it is in District Court, sentencing will happen right away. Likewise, if the defendant pleads not guilty, has a trial, and is convicted, the sentencing will take place right away. If they entered into a plea, the sentencing will take place right away. Having a Somerset DUI lawyer by your side throughout the case will help you prepare for sentencing and ensure you know what to expect.

Factors That Can Impact Sentencing

The court is going to consider a range of factors that relate to the offense, the particular defendant, and the issue of whether or not the defendant has any prior conviction or convictions. Factors that relate to the specific offense could include whether or not there was any property damage or if anyone was injured as a result of the DUI under investigation. That would be an aggravating factor for the judges and as a result, the sentencing could be greater.

If there was any sort of damage or any outstanding expenses, the defendant should expect to be ordered to pay restitution for repairing said damage. If a person was injured as a result of the DUI, then the defendant, if found responsible, will be tasked with covering the unpaid medical expenses of the injured party.

Sometimes the court factors in if the person was difficult with the police. Judges make a comment about someone being uncooperative or physical with the police officer and that can potentially enhance the sentence a little bit for the defendant.

The court will also take into consideration other related factors regarding the defendant. Judges typically want to make sure that if somebody is employed that they are able to keep their job. That might mean that the judge will consider allowing the person to serve, if they were going to give the person jail time, on weekends or they might allow them to have work relief if that is reasonable for what the person does for a living.

If a person is in treatment or has medical or mental health issues, the court will factor that into the final decision when determining the appropriate sentence.

Aggravating Factors

With sentencing, if a person does have a prior conviction that can be used against them and can be used to enhance the potential sentence for the newest DUI. The state has to file a notice of intention to seek a subsequent offender penalty. It is important for a defendant to understand that if they have any prior convictions, they could be used to increase the sentence that they are going to get on their newest DUI.

Generally in Somerset County, if they have a prior DUI, they are going to have jail sentence for their second one. How long it will be depends on a lot of different things, but they should anticipate that it would be at least a couple of weekends. It could be more since the court will consider how long ago that prior conviction occurred. If it was 10 or 15 years ago, the court is going to probably not be as quick to put the person in jail. If the prior conviction was in the last year, that is much more serious for the court and they are going to potentially give that person a longer period of incarceration. Also, they are going to make sure that as a condition of probation that person is getting into some sort of program for alcohol treatment.

Probation Before Judgement

A probation before judgment (PBJ) will always show up on a driving record, and under Maryland law it cannot be expunged, but it is a mechanism that takes away the conviction, which means that there are no points. It also means that when the person fills out job applications or is having a background check done for their employment, they will be able to honestly say that they do not have a conviction. If the person is being sentenced and they have a prior DUI, the court is going to factor that into sentencing.

Postponed Sentencing

It is unusual for sentencing to be postponed. Typically, sentencing would only be postponed if the judge had questions about the prior record of a defendant. This is because judges take into consideration a person’s entire record when figuring out what is an appropriate sentence.

For example, if the driver in question is not a Maryland driver and the judge does not have quick access to their record, sentencing may be postponed so the court can get a copy of the out of state driving record. That is typically how it would be handled if the person had prayed to jury trial and was convicted at the end of said jury trial. Sentencing would usually take place the same day unless the court had a question about the person’s prior record.

How An Attorney Can Help

Having a Somerset DUI lawyer by your side throughout the hearing process will be invaluable as you decide on the best course of action each step of the way. With your attorney’s assistance,  you can work together to mitigate the damages and reduce the potential sentencing outcomes in your case.