The type and quantity of evidence in a case is a critical factor for deciding guilt but should have little or no influence on the sentencing determinations of judges post conviction; this is because case evidence goes to guilt decisions by triers of fact, whereas sentences are imposed upon those already convicted. This study examines the effects of evidentiary type and the total quantity of physical evidence in a case on length of custodial sentence. The results demonstrate that violent felony cases with forensic evidence and those cases with more varied pieces of physical evidence result in longer custodial sentences for convicted defendants. Thus, the findings indicate that inculpatory evidence in criminal trials has enduring effects post conviction and, more broadly, suggest that judicial discretion at sentencing is, at least in part, influenced by the judge’s confidence in the defendant’s guilt.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- sentence length
- sentencing disparity