In the context of punishment, sentencing means the imposition of criminal penalties on defendants who have pled guilty or been found guilty at trial of one or more criminal offenses. For most crimes in most jurisdictions, the judge who receives the guilty plea or the finding of guilt makes the initial sentencing decision. However, subsequent decisions by the judge to revoke probation, or by correctional authorities to grant parole release, good-conduct credits, or temporary furlough, may have a substantial effect on the actual sentence carried out. Moreover, sentencing in the broadest sense often occurs before, or in lieu of, the judge's initial sentencing decision.

Police and prosecutors in all United States jurisdictions and in most Western nations have discretion to decline to charge offenders at ...

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