Another important thing that’s taken into consideration is any prior criminal history of the accused. In some sentencing guidelines, the penalties are harsher if this is a second or third offense. If you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony in the past, you might face harsher penalties for another brush with the law.
The prior actions that an individual has on their criminal record can impact the departure considerations in a case. It’s important to talk to a lawyer when you’re accused of any crime. But if you have a prior criminal history of any kind, talking to a lawyer becomes even more important. They can analyze the facts of the case, determine whether your criminal history will impact your current circumstances, and create a defense that mitigates the consequences.
Some states, New York included, have statutes regarding downward departure. A downward departure is an outlined way that a person can avoid incarceration and probation after being convicted of a crime. The circumstances in which a downward departure can be invoked vary. Depending on how much property or money was stolen, some people might be able to avoid having a criminal record entirely. The best way to avoid a criminal record is by paying restitution as quickly as possible, which will help to resolve the allegation before it ends up in the hands of a judge or detective.
If you’ve been accused of embezzlement, it’s usually in your best interest to avoid a lengthy court battle. But if you can’t avoid a prosecution, then you should do your best to pay restitution. In embezzlement cases, recovering the money is one of the top priorities of the victim and their legal counsel. Giving the money back helps create a downward departure. If you don’t make any attempts at restitution, the law tends to be much more harsh.
Another thing that can work in favor of a downward departure is mitigating information regarding your background. If you can illustrate that you didn’t mean to commit the crime, that you committed the crime for what you believed was a good reason, or that it was a one-time thing rather than an ongoing fraud scheme, you’re more likely to get lenient sentencing.
Crimes are outlined with minimum and maximum sentencing guidelines. A judge can choose what penalties the accused faces based on the case. Moving between penalty guidelines can sometimes cause an upward departure. Some people might find that they’ve been sentenced in the higher range of the outlined penalties, but others might find that they’re in the middle or on the lower end. The sentencing depends on the whim of the judge, the identity of the accused, past criminal history, the details of the crime, whether the crime was ongoing, and what impacts the crime had on other individuals.
While all victims of crimes should technically be considered equal in the eyes of the law, judges tend to use discretion. For example, if you’re stealing from a nonprofit organization that feeds homeless kids, the judge will view you less favorably than if you were skimming money from a multi-billion dollar corporation. The impact of the crime matters. In some cases, victims of the crime will detail the direct and indirect impacts that the crime had on their lives.
Another thing to keep in mind is the amount of money or property stolen. Different degrees of crime are outlined based on the property value of what was stolen. If you steal more than ten thousand dollars worth of property, you’ll usually be looking at felony charges. But the range of money in each charge might be large.
One example is a Class C larceny charge, which typically applies to stolen amounts between $75,000 and $1,000,000. That’s a huge range. If you steal $75,000, you’ll likely be subject to lower penalties than a person who stole $950,000. Class C felonies come with potential jail time ranging from five to fifteen years even if you have no criminal record.
The departure considerations in each case can have an impact not only on the amount you have to pay in fines, but also on the length of time that you’re incarcerated and the length of time you’re on probation following incarceration.