. When fixing the length of a term of imprisonment, a trial court must consider both aggravating and mitigating factors. See State v. O’Conner, 105 N.J. 399, 406-07 (1987); State v. Roth, 95 N.J. 334, 368 (1984); State v. Dalziel, 182 N.J. 494 (2005). A trial court does not have “unfettered sentencing discretion” and instead must adhere to “a structured discretion designed to foster less arbitrary and more equal sentences.” State v. Roth, supra, 95 N.J. at 345. State v. Dalziel, 182 N.J. 494 (2005)
To ensure statutory compliance, the appellate court must “(1) require that an exercise of discretion be based upon findings of fact that are grounded in competent, reasonably credible evidence;” (2) “require that the factfinder apply correct legal principles in exercising its discretion;” and (3) “modify sentences when the application of the facts to the law is such a clear error of judgment that it shocks the judicial conscience.” Id. According to the New Jersey Supreme Court in State v. Dalziel, 182 N.J. 494 (2005):
Where mitigating factors are amply based in the record before the sentencing judge, they must be found. To be sure, they may be accorded such weight as the judge determines is appropriate. That is a far cry, however, from suggesting that a judge may simply decline to take into account a mitigating factor that is fully supported by the evidence. Such a reading of the statute flies in the face of our sentencing scheme and of the well-established rule that aggravating and mitigating factors must be supported by credible evidence.
[Id. at 504-505 (citing State v. Roth, supra, 95 N.J. at 356-6).].