Sentence Modification

After sentencing, your options are not limited to an appeal of your case. In some situations, a sentence may be modified in either state or federal court, depending on the specific facts of your case. Sentence modifications require both timeliness and a compelling reason for a modification. While a court may be reluctant to change its sentencing order, there are cases in which a sentence modification is appropriate and may be granted.

Sentence modifications are different from appeals. A sentence modification starts with a request to the court where sentencing occurred. If you are seeking a sentence modification from a state-level court order, for example, you may make a motion for the trial court to reduce your sentence. For federal sentence modifications, you may move the district court to release from or reduce your federal prison sentence.

How Do Sentence Modifications Work in Georgia?

The laws governing sentence modifications vary depending on whether the trial was at the state or federal level.

If you are seeking to modify a sentencing order handed down after a trial in a Georgia court, then you may move the trial court to reduce your sentence within one year of sentencing or 120 days after the judgment on your appeal - whichever is later.

How the case was initially resolved will impact this timeline. For example, if you entered a plea after negotiations with the prosecution, then you must move for a sentence modification within one year from the date of sentencing.

If you were convicted at trial, however, then the sentencing order will be finalized 30 days after the trial’s completion. A motion to modify the sentencing order would need to be made within a year of sentencing being filed. 

In the event of an appeal, the time in which you are required to file a motion for a sentence modification would begin on the date that your case was sent back from the appeals court to the trial court. In this case, you would have either one year from the sentence or 120 days from the date that the record was returned to the trial court, whichever is later.

Federal Conviction Sentence Modification

If you have been convicted of a federal crime and sentenced to time in prison, you may move for the district court to release from or reduce your sentence if there are extraordinary and compelling reasons to do so and if the Federal Bureau of Prisons fails to make such a motion on your behalf.

A district court has discretion to impose a sentence that is in variance of federal sentencing guidelines. Once a sentence is imposed by the court, a judge can change the sentence when there has been an adjustment to these sentencing guidelines and the adjustment is applied retroactively to a case. 

There are other federal statutes that permit a person convicted of a federal crime to seek a reduced sentence. Of course, eligibility for a reduced sentence depends entirely on the specific facts of an individual’s crime, their criminal history, and their behavior while in jail. 

The Bullard Firm Is Here To Help

Whether you received sentencing at the state or federal level, The Bullard Firm is here to help you challenge your conviction. We have worked with clients just like you who are seeking to modify their criminal sentences and pursue a more just outcome for their case. Founding attorney Brandon Bullard has dedicated his career to challenging trial outcomes for clients throughout Georgia, and he will do the same for you.

Contact our office today and schedule a consultation to learn more about your rights to sentence modification and discuss your case with an attorney.

Georgia Sentence Modification FAQ

Who is Eligible for a Sentence Modification in Georgia?

In Georgia, if you have been sentenced to a felony or misdemeanor, you can request a modification of your sentence after a specified waiting period has elapsed. The specific duration of the waiting period may vary depending on your case's circumstances and the court's discretion.

You must have served at least one-third of your original sentence to qualify. Non-violent first offenders and convicts with good behavior are often good candidates for sentence modification. However, eligibility ultimately comes down to the discretion of the judge.

What Types of Sentences Can be Modified?

The types of sentences considered for modification in Georgia can vary. Here are some common examples:

  • Incarceration: If you have been sentenced to a term of imprisonment, you may be eligible for a reduction in your sentence length.
  • Fines: In some cases, fines associated with a sentence can be modified or waived.
  • Probation: If you are serving probation, a sentence modification can involve adjusting the conditions or duration of your probationary period.
  • Parole: If you are on parole, a modification could result in changes to your parole conditions or the length of your parole period.

Navigating the process of sentence modification can be emotionally challenging. Having the support and guidance of a Georgia sentence modification lawyer to advocate for your rights and best interests throughout the journey is crucial.

Can a Sentence Modification Result in a Longer Sentence?

No, a sentence modification cannot result in a longer sentence.

The purpose of requesting a sentence modification in Georgia is to reduce an existing sentence, not to increase it. The judge can modify your sentence to make it either less severe (shorter term of incarceration) or less harsh (converting incarceration time to probation or community service).

What is The Process for Requesting a Georgia Sentence Modification?

First, You must file a petition in the county where your sentence was imposed. This petition should explain why you believe the verdict should be modified. Supporting documents like character references, proof of rehabilitation, and medical records should also be included.

Once filed, the district attorney's office will review your petition. The judge can grant your request without a hearing if the district attorney approves your petition. A hearing will be scheduled if objections are filed or the judge wants more information.

At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence and testimony to support your petition. Witnesses who can speak to your character and rehabilitation can be called upon. The district attorney's office can also present evidence arguing against modification.

After considering all the evidence, the judge will grant or deny your petition. Your sentence can be reduced, suspended, or converted to probation if granted. If denied, you must wait for two years to file another petition.

Will a Sentence Modification Affect My Probation or Parole?

If your sentence modification request is approved, it will typically not affect your probation or parole. The judge has the discretion to modify the terms of your probation or parole as part of the sentence modification, but they are not required to do so.

Your probation or parole period will usually remain the same. Any probation or parole conditions, like community service hours, fines, or restitution, will likely stay in effect. The judge can amend them but does not have to.

If you were released on parole, you still have to report to your parole officer and follow the rules set by the parole board. Your parole is not automatically terminated just because your sentence was modified.

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Brandon is a consummate professional and brilliant practitioner. He is someone I would trust to represent me or someone in my family and he has my highest recommendation.

Bryan Tyson, Taylor English Duma LLP

For appellate and post-conviction representation Brandon is among the best. I recommend his services without hesitation.

David J. Dunn, Cook & Connelly

Because of his keen ability to navigate complicated procedural and constitutional issues, Brandon is a trusted legal advisor and my go-to recommendation for anyone in search of a zealous criminal appellate attorney.

Kosha Tucker, Attorney at Law
1827 Powers Ferry Road
Building 11, Suite 250
Atlanta, Georgia 30339
(404) 954-0598
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