Sentence Modification Law and Legal Definition

Motions for sentence modification typically involve a two-step process. First, the defendant must demonstrate the existence of a new factor. If he or she does so, then the trial court must determine whether the new factor justifies modification of the sentence.

A defendant must establish the existence of a new factor by clear and convincing evidence. The issue of whether a set of facts constitutes a "new factor" for sentencing purposes presents a question of law which may be eviewed without deference to the trial court.

A "new factor" is a fact or set of facts highly relevant to the imposition of sentence but not known to the trial judge at the time of sentencing, either because it was not then in existence or because it was unknowingly overlooked by all of the parties. In addition, it must be an event or development which frustrates the purpose of the original sentence. There must be some connection between the factor and the sentencing which strikes at the very purpose of the sentence selected by the trial court.