Federal Sentencing Guidelines: How Criminal Cases are Resolved in the Federal Court System

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Federal Sentencing Guidelines: How Criminal Cases are Resolved in the Federal Court System

Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Federal Criminal Defense Basics

How Does Federal Sentencing Work?


The Federal Judicial System is unique in its nature. Approximately 97-98% of federal criminal cases resolve without ever going to trial. Instead, the majority of cases resolutions occur through judicial proceedings with the defense counsel, assistant US attorney, and a federal judge.

Federal criminal trials are very rare and can resolve in a higher and stricter sentencing than one that would have been achieved in a plea deal. According to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, 83% of federal defendants are convicted if they go to trial. However, an experienced federal defense attorney can push your case to trial to have your case dismissed or have you aquitted of all charges.

In 2018, 90% of the 80,000 federal defendants pleaded guilty in their federal criminal cases. There are times when doing so is in the best strategic interest of a defendant because a federal defense attorney can negotiate a favorable sentencing according to a crime’s Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Nonetheless,  The Rossen Law Firm federal defense attorneys are zealous in its representation of clients and are able to boldly represent clients in a federal criminal trial so that a client can achieve the best outcome possible in their federal criminal case.

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What Are Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

Federal Sentencing Guidelines are a set of non-binding rules that Federal Judges must consider when fashioning a sentence for a defendant. Judges are not required to follow these guidelines and can choose to give a stricter or more lenient sentence if they give a rationale for doing so.


The Federal Sentencing Guidelines came into effect in 1987 in order to create a uniform sentencing policy for defendants convicted in the United States federal court system.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines vary between federal crimes. The guidelines assign a crime an “offense level” between 1 and 43. Certain factors raise and lower the offense level of a given crime in a federal court.

What Are The Sentencing Factors a Federal Judge Must Consider

There are 7 factors a judge must consider at sentencing as set forth by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a))

  1. The nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant
  2. The need for the sentence imposed to reflect the four primary purposes of sentencing (retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation)
  3. The kinds of sentences available
  4. The sentencing range established through the application of the guidelines and the types of sentences available under the guidelines
  5. Any relevant “policy statements” promulgated by the United States Sentencing Commission
  6. The need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct
  7. The need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense

Necessity Of An Experienced Federal Defense Attorney

Because there are numerous elements that go into the sentence that a judge fashions, as well as a number of variables that can raise or reduce the severity of a sentencing, it is of utmost importance to retain an experienced federal defense attorney who can help you navigate these complex structures in order to help you achieve the most favorable outcome in your federal criminal case.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are a focal point of federal criminal cases and an experienced federal defense attorney can fight to resolve your case with a sentence that downward departs from the minimum penalties for a crime. The Federal Defense Attorneys at the Rossen Law Firm provide zealous representation to their clients and help them achieve their best futures.

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Are You Under Investigation by Federal Authorities? The Federal Defense Attorneys at the Rossen Law Firm Offer Free Consultations:

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Federal Sentencing Guidelines: How Criminal Cases are Resolved in the Federal Court System
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    I had an unfortunate situation with a family member that lead to my arrest and being charged with DV Battery. This was the first time I had ever been arrested so I was very nervous and afraid of what was going to happen to me. After talking with Adam I decided to retain him and let me tell you this was the BEST decision I could have ever made. Adam made me feel so comfortable and confident that everything will turn out the best in my favor. He is professional, ethical and supportive. He was always available too answer any questions or concerns.Not to mention, his team at the office is awesome they are so friendly and welcoming. Anytime I had a question when I called the office they were able to guide me in the rightdirection. They always were in contact with me with any information or updates regarding my case. Adams team is GREAT!Adam delivered, my case was DISMISSED. So if you want an attorney the is gonna fight for you and get the job done retain the BEST there is Adam Rossen!!!
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    I had an amazing experience with The Rossen Law Firm. The staff were very professional. Attorney Susan Lawson went above and beyond working on my case. We were thoroughly prepared for trial. Mrs. Lawson reviewed hours of body and dash camera footage multiple times and aggressively performed depositions on witnesses and law enforcement.The final outcome for me was the state dropped my case, due to the great work Susan and the Rossen team performed. I didn’t even need to go to trial.This law firm does not play around. They pay attention to detail and they FIGHT FOR YOU!Thank you Adam, team, and a special thank you to Susan for your amazing work! I really appreciate you.
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    Rossen Law Firm’s legal team understands what’s at stake when you’re charged with a crime in South Florida. We’re committed to defending you and protecting your rights. Our legal team is ready to create a customized strategy for your case to fight for the best possible outcome. We handle Criminal, DUI, Federal, Domestic Violence, Marchman Act & Baker Act cases, and more.

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