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How Does Federal Sentencing Work?

July 8, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

How is Federal Sentencing different from State Sentencing?

Federal sentencing is akin to sentencing in state criminal matters.  Nonetheless, there are key differences between the two situations that make it important to work with an experienced federal attorney on your side. Federal investigators are well skilled in finding the information they require to bring a case against you.  By working with a lawyer on your team from the start, you can combat federal agent and U.S. attorney tactics, and you can defend your rights and freedom.

Sentencing in Federal Court

Once an individual is convicted in federal court, the judge is charged with the task of determining what the sentence will be. In a state court matter, there is a report that is the responsibility of the probate department.  State sentencing guidelines are weighed along with the specifics of the case to make a final sentencing determination. In a federal case, on the other hand, the United States Sentencing Commission puts out sentencing guidelines.  These guidelines are designed to work in addition to the minimum and maximum penalties set by Congress. The judge will additionally receive a presentence report which is similar to the probate court report given to a state judge. The presentence report is taken into account, along with victim statements, defendant statements, and statements from the attorneys on both sides of the matter.

Regardless of the unique details of your particular case, a good lawyer can help you through the development of your case and create a custom fitted approach to aim at the outcome you want. 

Appealing a Federal Court Sentence

In the event that you have been sentenced, or should you be at the stage of awaiting sentencing, you may be able to deploy your right to appeal. A federal district court decision can be appealed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals.  In your appeal, you can challenge either the verdict in your matter, or the sentence you received. If you feel as though you were unjustly convicted, your federal attorney can help you fight back and possibly achieve improved case results. If you already have been heard at the Circuit Court level, you have the right to appeal to the Supreme Court.  For this to happen, they must give permission to hear your case.  In reality, it is extremely rare to get this permission and be heard at that level. Your lawyers will look over all of your options with you to help you figure out what the most advantageous course of action is in your case. 



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How Does Federal Sentencing Work?

May 26, 2020

If you are facing criminal charges and decide to plead guilty instead of facing trial, you will need to sort assistance from a good federal sentencing lawyer to navigate your sentencing process. But before delving into what federal sentencing is, you first need to be up to speed with what federal sentencing is based on. Later on, you will understand what the judge may need from you.

How Federal Sentences are Determined

Before a judge determines what sentence to impose on a case, a federal court normally relies on some factors as they are provided in 18 U.S.C. § 3553. Below are these sentencing factors.

  1. The nature and circumstance of the crime
  2. The history as well as the characteristics of the accused person
  3. The need for the preferred sentence to reflect the seriousness of the crime, to promote respect of the law. The court needs to impose a just penalty to afford deterrence to criminal conduct as well as protecting the public from committing the same crime. Further, it provides the charged person with the required educational training, medical care and correctional treatment in the best way possible.
  4. The available types of sentence for the offense
  5. The need to prevent unwarranted sentence disparities among lawbreakers with the same records and who have been found guilty of the same conduct.
  6. The need to provide compensation to the victims of the offense

It can be clearly understood from the list above that the sentencing judge can consider a host of things surrounding the crime as well as the offender. They will also compare your case and charges with other similar cases and come up with a suitable and just punishment for your case. Furthermore and in line with the above factors, the appropriate federal sentencing guidelines range is also considered, although not in all situations to come up with the appropriate sentence. If you need to achieve the best possible sentence outcomes, you need to work closely with a professional federal sentencing attorney.

Federal Sentencing in The US

In most cases in the US, sentencing will usually take place ninety days after a guilty verdict or plea. The judge usually calculates the applicable guidelines range. The guidelines serve as advisory thus a judge needs to consider them before they impose a sentence. Typically, the guidelines are placed in a chart with two parts, one part for the offense level while the other is for prior criminal history category. The offense level determines the seriousness of the offense. For instance, murder comes at the top of the chart specifically at level 43. Stealing a less amount of money, on the other hand, is found almost close to the bottom of the table, at level 6. The factors in the case can make your sentence level to either go up or down. The level will usually decrease if you show acceptance of responsibility or pleading guilty.

Components of Federal Sentencing

The Plea hearing

When you plead guilty to a charge without a plea agreement, the judge will first need to accept your guilty plea. They will conduct a plea hearing where they will question you to make sure your guilty plea is voluntary.

Presentence report

This is a document that a probation officer prepares. It provides the district judge with the necessary information for them to reach the appropriate sentence. It contains your biographical information as well as his calculation of your conviction. It is done once they have met with you in a lengthy interview.

Objecting of the Presentence Report

You are supposed to review the presentence report with your attorney. If you feel that it contains inaccurate information or inaccurate personal information, your lawyer will file an objection to the PSR. The judge will decide this objection during your hearing.

Sentencing memoranda

Both the federal prosecutor and the defense submit sentencing memoranda that argue in favor of the requested sentence.

The sentencing hearing

This happens when both the sentencing memoranda and the PSR have been submitted before the judge. It usually takes anything from 15 minutes to many days.

Sentencing appeals

Sentencing appeals happen when either side is not satisfied with the sentence decision. They can go ahead and file an appeal. One may argue to the Circuit Court of Appeal that the judge who sentenced you committed a legal error when calculating your sentence and thus is longer than expected. Your case may be remanded for resentencing in case the court will agree with you.

How Does Federal Sentencing Work?

Although federal sentencing is similar to sentencing in state criminal cases, there are key differences between the procedures that make having an experienced federal lawyer on your side so critical. Our team of accomplished defense lawyers has gained recognition for our work in misdemeanor and felony cases and knows what it takes to defend the people accused of serious offenses in both state and federal court. If you or your loved ones have been accused of a fraud offense, white collar crime, sex crime, or drug trafficking offense, it is extremely important that you do everything possible to get a knowledgeable federal defense lawyer on your side immediately. Federal investigators know how to find the information they need to bring a case against you. However, you can combat federal agent and attorney tactics by working with an experienced attorney beforehand. Let our defense team help you defend your rights and freedom.

No matter what the specifics of your case, our criminal defense lawyers are fully equipped to protect your best interests. We provide free initial case consultation prior to planning the most strategic approach towards your case. Together with our licensed federal attorneys, our firm has developed into one of the leading defense firms in the country. With a stellar reputation, we can assure you that we can battle for you until you achieve your desired result. Get in touch with us today to get started.

Federal Court Sentencing

The judge must determine what the sentence will be after a person is convicted in federal court. In a state court case, there is a report completed by the probate department, and state sentencing guidelines, to weigh along with the particulars of the case. In a federal case, the United States Sentencing Commission publishes sentencing guidelines. These published guidelines work in addition to the minimum and maximum penalties set by Congress. The judge also receives a presentence report that is similar to the probate court report given to a state judge. The presentence report is considered along with defendant statements, victim statements, and statements from the lawyers on both sides of the case.

Our defense lawyers can guide you through the development of your case and tailor the approach to aim at the results you want, no matter what the specific details of your case. Contact our firm at your most convenient time to learn more about federal sentencing and the guidelines that could affect your case. Let us discuss what we can do to prepare your defense.

Appealing a Federal Court Sentence

If you have been sentenced or are merely awaiting sentencing, you may be able to utilize your right to appeal. Federal district court decisions can be appealed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. You can challenge either the verdict in your case, or the sentence. We can help you fight back and potentially achieve an improved case outcome if you believe you were unfairly convicted. If you have already been heard at the Circuit Court level, know that you could appeal to the Supreme Court, although they must grant permission to hear your case and it is extremely rare for them to do so. Our defense lawyers will go through all of your available options with you and help you determine what the best course of action is in your case. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team if you have questions on how federal sentencing works or want to hear more about how our defense lawyers can support you in your case.

Federal Criminal Defense Team

Our defense team is committed to doing whatever it takes to protect your rights and defend your freedom.  We are available anytime to start walking you through your case. Let our experienced defense lawyers advise you on the steps you can take to protect yourself if you are under investigation by the FBI, DEA, or any other federal agency. If you have already been arrested, reach out to us immediately so we can begin defending you. We will battle for you until you obtain the results you deserve. Don’t wait any longer; protect your future now. Contact us for federal defense by calling our toll free number or sending us a message online.

You have probably gone through conviction, or you have witnessed a loved one go through the same at some point in life. It could either be after pleading guilty or after several hearings and trials. At such a time, there are a lot of questions running through your mind like, how does the judge conclude on which sentence to give the convict? What happens next after the judgment?

This article aims at giving you an outline of how federal sentencing work and what to expect.

Federal sentencing guidelines

They are the most crucial aspects of the sentencing process as they are the guidelines or non-abiding rules, meant to set a uniform sentencing policy and govern how sentences are imposed. In all criminal cases, except a few minor ones, the sentencing guidelines are used to suggest a range of imprisonments that the judge may make based on the seriousness of the crime.

Also, the imprisonment range will depend on other factors such as the defendant’s criminal history and other facts which are calculated based on the rules set by the guidelines. The judge will work on deciding on what range the defendant falls in after listening to the case carefully and gathering facts.

Other factors

It is not always that the judge has to follow the suggestions of the guidelines. Sometimes the judge may impose the sentence based on what he or she wants. You should, however, note that the cases are not biased and some factors have to be considered before making the final judgment. For example, the judge can look at the defendant’s personality and how s/he is behaving throughout the trial process and use that to make the judgment.

What’s more? He or she can look at how things took place and why they happened as they did. Are there people who got harmed in the middle of the events? Does it look like an intentional deed or does it look more like an accident?

In this case, you will need a lawyer to help you prove your innocence by explaining these factors to you so you will know how to convince the judge that you are innocent or if not, convince him/her to impose the lowest sentence possible. Generally, the judges will look at aspects like how the crime happened to help them impose a penalty that can at least stop that from happening again.

Take the example of a murder case. If one is convicted of murder crime, the judge will check the most suitable punishment that could stop the defendant from committing such crime again and in such case, life imprisonment may be the only way. In the event of a car accident due to drunk driving, the driver may be imprisoned for a few years, but then he could be banned from driving ever again even after getting out. These are a few scenarios on how the judgments are made even without following the guidelines.


In every federal crime, the federal sentencing guidelines are used to establish a base on the direction in which the trial will take. They help in determining the offence level. The facts collected during the case trial can either increase or reduce the level, and you must, therefore, be prepared to answer questions and convincingly answer them. The guidelines can be complicated and you may not understand them, and sometimes the guidelines calculations can be wrong and misguiding. They may result in a longer sentence that you deserve. Having an experienced attorney is the most likely way of avoiding that as s/he can review the guidelines calculations and if unsatisfying, s/he can object them before the sentencing hearing.

Guidelines are un-biding laws, and therefore the judges are free to use their findings after critical thinking and analyzing events. They can impose a sentence that is either below or above the guidelines, but the fact remains that the guidelines are very influential in the process.

As you prepare for sentencing, it is advisable that you think of how you will answer any possible questions even before the judge asks them. This will give you confidence and who knows, you might end up convincing the judge to give you the lowest sentence after being convicted of a crime.

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