Indeterminate Sentencing Versus Determinate Sentencing And What It Means For Those Charged With A Sex Offense
Most unlawful sexual contact statutes in Colorado automatically include mandatory sentencing provisions typically categorized as “indeterminate sentencing.” That is opposed to “determinate sentencing,” where a specific sentence (e.g., 15 years) is handed down by the court.
What it means is this. Regardless of what a district attorney or court would prefer to do, the sentence to be imposed is not discretionary with the court. It is already dictated within the statute by the legislature and can’t be modified.
If you aren’t dealing with an experienced sex crimes attorney who understands what indeterminate sentencing actually means, you are about to make the biggest mistake of your life.
How Does Indeterminate Sentencing Work?
The idea behind the indeterminate sentencing structure is that people convicted of sex crimes will get treatment in prison. Only after some time in treatment will it become clear how dangerous the person actually is and therefore what sentence they should receive.
For felony sex crimes, the 1998 Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act requires an indeterminate sentence with a mandatory minimum and a maximum of the defendant’s natural life in prison. For example, you could be sentenced to 2 years to life or 25 years to life, depending upon which offense you were convicted of.
In other words, in felony sex crime cases, life in prison is always a possibility.
Indeterminate sentencing also means that you are automatically sentenced to the Department of Corrections, not to county jail or community corrections.
If you are sentenced to an indeterminate time in prison, how do you know when you’ll get out? You don’t. You only know that you will serve at least the minimum time specified in your sentence. Your sentence will then be periodically reevaluated by the parole board after you have served the minimum time.
Understand this: NO PAROLE BOARD HAS EVER GRANTED PAROLE TO A DEFENDANT CONVICTED UNDER A STATUTE IMPOSING INDETERMINATE SENTENCING. Indeterminate sentencing often actually means life in prison without parole.
An inexperienced attorney may not understand the full ramifications of this.
For example, in a case where the original charges include 65 counts of unlawful sexual contact/position of trust, an inexperienced attorney may recommend that you accept a reduced plea offer of one count of unlawful sexual contact/position of trust and dismiss the remaining 64 counts. THIS MEANS THAT YOU WOULD BE SENTENCED TO JAIL FOR ONE LIFETIME JAIL TERM INSTEAD OF 65. Don’t do it! Talk to an experienced defense attorney about your full range of options and fighting the charges.
Using Knowledge And Experience To Fight For Your Best Interests
As a former prosecutor, I understand the kind of legal strategies that are usually employed by the opposing counsel in court. I also understand their motivation to get as many “wins” as possible. I know when they are trying to offer something that is not in your best interest but seems like it is.
With 25 years of practice in criminal cases and a track record of success, I know just how vital it is to have an experienced attorney by your side if you are accused of a sex offense. I will work to get the charges dropped or reduced. I will fight for an acquittal at trial. If you are convicted, I will strive to minimize the penalties and prevent you from being put on the sex offender registry.
Call me directly at 800-478-8859 for a confidential consultation. Or send an online message using the form on this website. I will personally and promptly return your message.