If you have been arrested for a federal offense and are looking at a sentencing hearing, you may be eligible for a downward departure from the sentencing guidelines. A sentencing hearing in federal court is a hearing where the judge determines what sentence to impose. Federal district court judges must consider the seven factors set forth by 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) in determining a sentence:
- the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant;
- the need for the sentence imposed—
- to reflect the seriousness of the offense, to promote respect for the law, and to provide just punishment for the offense;
- to afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct;
- to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant; and
- to provide the defendant with needed educational or vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment in the most effective manner;
- the kinds of sentences available;
- [the applicable Sentencing Guidelines];
- any pertinent [Sentencing Guidelines] policy statement
- the need to avoid unwarranted sentence disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct; and
- the need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.
Section 3553(a) requires a district court judge to assign a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary to comply with the purposes of sentencing.
Sentencing under Section 3553(a) therefore requires the judge to start with the minimum sentence permissible and add only so much additional punishment, if any, as is necessary to comply with Section 3553(a)’s purposes.
What Is the Basic Federal Sentencing Procedure?
After a defendant enters a plea of guilty or is found guilty by a jury, the judge will order a presentence report. A federal probation officer may interview the defendant, his or her family and friends, law enforcement officers or anyone with information concerning the nature of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant. The presentence report will provide the judge with the defendant’s prior criminal history and a recommenced sentencing range based on criminal history and a total offense score. The presentence report will also provide the judge with information concerning any minimum mandatory sentence. The government and the defendant will have an opportunity to object to the report before it is submitted for sentencing. A judge will usually sentence within the recommenced sentencing range but the judge can and sometimes does depart upward or downward, depending on a number of factors.
Why should I contact a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been arrested for a federal offense and are anticipating a sentencing hearing, it is critical that you get the help of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. Federal sentencing is complex and requires the help of someone with experience and knowledge concerning this very serious process. An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you get a downward departure sentence and avoid a lengthy prison term.
Why Fernandez & Hernandez?
Fernandez & Hernandez can assist and guide you through the process. Federal sentencing is very serious and can be complex. Fernandez & Hernandez may be able to help you find a solution. If you need legal assistance with federal sentencing, call Tampa Criminal Defense Attorney Daniel J. Fernandez of Fernandez & Hernandez at 813-229-5353.