If you’ve been charged with a federal crime, it’s crucial that you understand the federal sentencing guidelines. These guidelines are a set of rules and regulations that dictate how judges should sentence defendants who have been convicted of federal crimes.
Depending on the severity of your charge, and other mitigating factors, the federal sentencing guidelines can have a significant impact on your punishment. In this guide, we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions about federal sentencing guidelines.
What are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?
The federal sentencing guidelines are a set of rules and regulations that dictate how federal judges should sentence defendants who have been convicted of federal crimes.
The guidelines take into account the severity of the crime, as well as any mitigating factors that may be present. They were created in 1987 by the United States Sentencing Commission, and they have been amended numerous times since then.
How do Federal Sentencing Guidelines Work?
The federal sentencing guidelines are calculated using a number of different factors, including the severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, and other aggravating or mitigating circumstances. The judge will consider these factors when determining an appropriate sentence.
In order to preserve any arguments for erroneously calculated guidelines it is important that your federal criminal lawyer files written and detailed objections to these errors.
After a significant case in 2005, the Supreme Court decided that these federal sentencing guidelines were not mandatory. This means that judges are not required to follow these recommendations.
What Other Factors Will the Judge Consider at Sentencing?
There is a statute that governs what the sentencing court is to consider. 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sets forth many factors, one of which is the federal sentencing guidelines.
The other federal sentencing factors are:
(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
(2) the need for the sentence imposed—
(A) to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;
(B) to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct; (C) to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
(D) to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner;
(3) the kinds of sentences available;
(4) the kinds of sentence and the sentencing range established for—
(A) the applicable category of offense committed by the applicable category of defendant as set forth in the guidelines— (i) issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(a)(1) of title 28, United States Code, subject to any amendments made to such guidelines by act of Congress (regardless of whether such amendments have yet to be incorporated by the Sentencing Commission into amendments issued under section 994(p) of title 28); and (ii) that, except as provided in section 3742(g), are in effect on the date the defendant is sentenced; or
(B) in the case of a violation of probation or supervised release, the applicable guidelines or policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(a)(3) of title 28, United States Code, taking into account any amendments made to such guidelines or policy statements by act of Congress (regardless of whether such amendments have yet to be incorporated by the Sentencing Commission into amendments issued under section 994(p) of title 28);
(5) any pertinent policy statement— (A) issued by the Sentencing Commission pursuant to section 994(a)(2) of title 28, United States Code, subject to any amendments made to such policy statement by act of Congress (regardless of whether such amendments have yet to be incorporated by the Sentencing Commission into amendments issued under section 994(p) of title 28); and (B) that, except as provided in section 3742(g), is in effect on the date the defendant is sentenced.
(6) the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
(7) the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.
Ask Your Lawyer What Your Guidelines Are. Stay Informed.
It is essential to take ownership of your federal criminal case. It is your life at stake, not your lawyer’s. Before you decide to go to trial or take a plea, there are many important factors to consider. (Not just the federal sentencing guidelines)
You and your lawyer should discuss all possible legal motions, defenses at trial, and also discuss what possible charges the feds could add should you decide to exert your right to a jury trial. But, of course, the feds don’t like that, and they will punish you.
In almost every case, if you tell the federal prosecutors you want to go to trial, they will file what is called a superseding indictment. This indictment will have additional charges and likely include charges that have much more severe punishments.
Deciding whether to plead or go to trial is critical. You have the right to make an informed decision.
We Have Experienced Federal Criminal Lawyers.
Both of our attorneys, Justin Eisele and Mirriam Z. Seddiq are experienced federal criminal lawyers. They have decades of experience.
Between our two lawyers they have handled over 300 federal criminal cases. They are not afraid to go to trial, but they also are not afraid to support you if you choose to accept a guilty plea.
Justin and Mirriam are well-known for their sentencing advocacy and have been able to secure many sentences that are far below the suggested federal sentencing guidelines.
What are you waiting for? The firm offers free consultations for federal criminal cases. Click the below link, fill out the form, and one of our lawyers will call you in less than two hours.