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