A Federal Criminal Conviction And The Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Once a defendant in criminal federal court is convicted of or pleads guilty to a crime, a judge will impose a sentence. A federal judge will look to the federal sentencing guidelines for guidance. I am a former federal prosecutor. I founded the Law Offices of Peter Katz, with offices located in Princeton and New York, to protect the freedom and defend the rights of clients in New Jersey and New York who have been accused of criminal federal conduct.
What Are The Federal Sentencing Guidelines?
The United States Sentencing Commission oversees the sentencing practices of the federal courts to ensure that federal judges across the country are consistent with their sentencing practices. The commission established a uniform set of guidelines and policies to ensure that sentences for convicted criminals are comparable from one state to the next.
What Happens After A Defendant Pleads Or Is Found Guilty Of A Crime?
Once a defendant enters a guilty plea or is found guilty of committing a crime at a federal criminal trial, the Federal Department of Probation may conduct a presentencing investigation and prepare a report. The report will include information about the defendant and the alleged crime and is designed to help a federal judge decide on and impose a sentence. As an important part of the criminal court process for federal court, the presentence report and the federal sentencing guidelines will assist a federal judge with sentencing decisions.
What Can A Federal Judge Consider When Sentencing A Criminal Defendant?
The U.S. laws dictate that a federal judge must take several factors into consideration when determining how to sentence a defendant, including:
- The offense and the circumstances of the case
- The need to promote respect for the law, encourage deterrence to criminal conduct and provide a fair punishment for the crime
- The category of the offense and the sentence suggested by the sentencing guidelines
- Necessary restitution for the victims of the crime
- Any opinions and relevant statements by the U.S. Sentencing Commission
In addition, federal judges are asked to consider sentences imposed upon defendants with similar criminal histories who have been sentenced for similar criminal conduct so as to discourage disparity and encourage consistency with criminal sentences throughout the country.
How An Experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
While the sentencing guidelines used to be mandatory, judges now have more leeway than they used to. However, depending on the severity of the crime and the circumstances, lengthy sentences and periods of incarceration are more frequent than not. An experienced defense attorney with knowledge and understanding of federal criminal sentencing guidelines and procedures can advocate fiercely on behalf of a defendant facing harsh penalties and incarceration for a crime. An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can fight for your freedom.