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What Happens Before A Sentence Is Imposed In Federal Court?

May 26, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

The justice system is complicated. There are many types of courts including the supreme court, small claims court and appellate courts. Each court has specific rules and regulations. A case in a civil court is a very different thing than a case in a criminal court. Disputes between two parties in a civil court are very different than a case brought in a criminal court by a prosecutor. Examples of crimes typically heard in a federal criminal include federal hate crimes, identity theft, computer crimes, bank robbery and mail fraud. Those who are sentenced of an offense in this court should know what’s likely to happen and why. They should also know what they need to do to prepare for the court’s ruling. Knowing what’s going on can help take some of the fear away from a possible sentence. It can help people set their affairs in order before they enter this system.

The First Sentencing

A person can agree to a plea as a confession of guilt. They can also be convicted in the aftermath of a trial. Once the trial is concluded, the next step to hear the sentence. A judge cannot simply decide to impose a sentence based on their own thoughts. Instead, they are bound by sentencing guidelines that must be followed. These guidelines all for a certain level of leeway. They also indicate the kind of sentence the person is likely to receive. Keep in mind that a sentence may be longer or it may shorter than the suggestions. It can also include several different factors such as a jail sentence as well as the imposition of fines. A judge can decide that a person is headed for prison or choose to sentence them to probation instead.

Probation Officer

Before the sentencing, court officials wish to gather all evidence about the person. This includes their background, motivations, educational background and their financial and family history. A probation officer will interview the person who has been found guilty in person. After the interview, the officer will write what is known as a presentencing report. The goal of the report is to take into consideration many factors such as the person’s background and any other factors that may have lead them down a less than ideal path in life. If someone has an impoverished background or mental illness, this is where it will be made known.

The report is largely designed to be a comprehensive look into the person’s character and what motivated them to behave as they did. This report will go to many people involved in the case. A judge has the opportunity to review it as well as the prosecuting attorney. The plaintiff also has the right to read it along with their attorney. They can object to anything they find in the report on the grounds that it is not accurate. The plaintiff’s lawyer can provide evidence to indicate that something is not true or help clarify any points of contention. It’s a good idea to speak closely with the attorney about the report. Doing so can help provide the kind of accurate information that is necessary to make sure that your voice is heard and all factors are taken into account during the sentencing phase.

Following Procedures

After the report is read, a person may work closely with their lawyers and all people involved in this case to create a sentencing memorandum. This document is a chance for you to put your best face forward to the court system. Many people ask others to speak on their behave in a positive way. Then there’s going to be a sentencing hearing. The person is required to be present at the sentencing hearing even if they gong to appeal the decision. The judge will let the convicted person know what’s going to happen in a speech as well as in a written report. Working closely with a lawyer during this time can help anyone figure out what’s likely to happen when the judge speaks as well as the kind of sentence that is likely to be given. Doing all you can to prepare for this moment is essential.

What Happens before a Sentence is Imposed in Federal Court?

The procedure in federal court cases follows the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and is very similar between different cases. Our legal defense team can represent you from investigation to potential sentencing. Committed to defending your best interests as you fight back against federal agents and prosecutors, our licensed federal defense attorneys will guide through the process. Reach out to us for an initial case consultation and to learn more about the federal criminal process and how our defense lawyers can help you protect your rights and defend your freedom after you are investigated for or charged with a federal offense.


It is important that you get a lawyer on your side as soon as you are faced with a federal criminal investigation or charge. The lawyer will walk you through the steps you need to take in order to get a reasonable result in your criminal case. Our legal team has developed a respected defense practice statewide that obtains impressive results for clients in even the most difficult cases. Get connected with one of our licensed federal lawyers, who can help you fight back against serious charges including federal white collar crime charges, federal drug trafficking charges, federal sex crime charges, and federal conspiracy charges. Don’t wait to get in touch with our federal trial team. Call or contact us online now to get a free initial case analysis.


Stages of a Federal Criminal Case  

In most cases, a thorough investigation will happen before federal charges are even brought against a person. If you are being investigated, it is critical that you work with a legal team and you seek out a lawyer who has experience defending against federal agents.


If the United States attorney chooses to proceed with charges, an initial hearing and arraignment will take place in federal court, and a plea will be entered. Discovery will follow right after the initial hearing. During the discovery stage, both sides exchange and uncover information pertaining to the case. At this point, make sure to continue working with your defense lawyer to seek a favorable plea bargain, prior to proceeding with the preliminary trial hearing, where you will begin defending yourself in front of a judge and possible jury.


To challenge the prosecution’s case against you before and after trial, there are a number of motions you can pursue. Depending on the specifics of your case, you can move to vacate a jury decision, set aside the verdict or even move for a new trial. It is vital that you work with a lawyer who knows what legal options to pursue and is prepared to do whatever it takes to defend your freedom.


Sentencing in Federal Court Cases – Federal Crime Defense

To determine what sentence to impose, the judge will look to a number of different sources. Congress has set minimum and maximum punishments for most crimes while the U.S. Sentencing Commissions have presented a set of sentencing guidelines that consider additional factors. The judge will also draw on a presentence report, defendant’s statements, victim statements, and information from the attorneys.


A lot of consideration relating to the history of the offender, the nature of the crime, the offender’s disposition during trial, and more, will go into the judge’s determination of what the sentence will be. Work with a defense lawyer who knows how to craft your story throughout trial and weave your defense into the information a judge will use. Our team of skilled defense lawyers knows how to protect clients from conviction and helps clients achieve more favorable sentences. We are available now to begin working with you in your federal criminal case.


As one of the top-tier federal defense firms, we are trusted by clients statewide. Our proven results in misdemeanor and felony cases show why that is the case. Rest assured, working with one of our defense attorneys will ensure your story is heard and your rights are protected throughout the stages of the federal criminal process—from investigation to trial and beyond. Let us learn more about the specifics of your criminal case and create an individualized defense plan for you—call or send us a message online now to get started.



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