If you have been convicted of a federal crime, you should know that your legal battles are not over. The judge presiding over the case will still have to determine your penalties. While there are federal sentencing guidelines, judges are not bound to follow them. As a result, you may want to work with a New Jersey federal criminal defense attorney to help argue for a lesser penalty.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The federal sentencing guidelines are a point-based system to determine the severity of potential penalties for someone convicted of a crime. While judges may give considerable weight to the guidelines, the guidelines do not have to be followed exactly due to a 2005 Supreme Court decision. So depending upon the whims of the judge, you could face wildly different sentences. That’s why having an experienced attorney represent your interests during sentencing is so important.
Federal Sentencing Process
The federal sentencing process typically consists of:
- Pre-Sentencing Interview. The Department of Probation will interview the defendant and get information for which to recommend a sentence. The defendant will have a chance to see the report and comment on it;
- Defendant’s Words. The defendant will have an opportunity to argue why a lesser sentence is appropriate in the defendant’s memorandum, prepared by his or her defense attorney. A properly drafted memo may greatly impact a judge’s decision-making; and
- Sentencing. The judge will consider the pre-sentence report, defendant’s memorandum and prosecutor’s recommendation. The defendant will then appear before the judge and the judge will hand down the sentence. The judge must consider the guidelines, but may go above or below the guidelines depending upon the specific facts of the case.
Contact a New Jersey Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
Even if you have been convicted of a crime, you should know that a major part of your legal fight awaits. There can be a lot of leeway in federal sentencing. An experienced attorney knows how to argue your case to help get you the least amount of penalties possible. To learn how attorney Tim Anderson can help your case, call 732-212-2812.