Sentencing and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

If you or a family member is charged with a federal offense, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Your defense attorney can limit your potential criminal exposure and resolve the matter prior to trial. Resolving a case before trial can result in favorable plea agreements and avoid the astronomical expenses, time and inconveniences that go along with an indictment and federal trial.

Federal Sentencing GuidelinesOne of the biggest differences between New Jersey State Courts and Federal Courts is the way a defendant is sentenced. In State Courts, assistant prosecutors can recommend a specific sentence. A county prosecutor can recommend probation or a specific number of years in state prison as part of the plea agreement. In Federal Court, the Assistant U.S. Attorneys cannot recommend a specific sentence. When you plead guilty to a federal offense, the sentence depends on the offense level for your particular crime. Each offense level has a range for the amount of time that you may face. Your attorney must have the experience to negotiate the offense level and understand how the federal sentencing guidelines apply to your case. This is why it is critical to retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for Federal Courts for the District of New Jersey.

What happens After a Federal Plea Agreement?

In Federal Court, the Judge will examine many factors to determine how to impose the appropriate sentence. After a plea is entered in court, you will be required to report to the Federal Probation Department for a presentence report interview. The federal probation officer will interview you about your personal background and the federal offense. Your attorney should attend this interview with you. After the interview is concluded, the probation officer will provide a draft report for your attorney and the federal prosecutor to review. Your attorney can comment on the draft report and provide additional documents and information to the probation officer. Once the presentence report is finalized, it will be sent to the Judge to review before you are sentenced.

What Does the Federal Judge Consider at Sentencing?

The federal sentencing guidelines are advisory to the sentencing judge. This means the guidelines are not binding on the Court and the Judge can impose any sentence she determines to be reasonable. The law requires that a Judge impose a sentence that is sufficient and not greater than necessary. This is why your attorney should submit a sentencing memorandum to the Court prior to your sentence date.

The federal sentencing laws require the Court consider a number of factors when deciding the sentence:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense;
  • The criminal history category and characteristics of the defendant;
  • The need for the sentence. This takes into account the seriousness of the crime, the need for deterrence, the need to protect the public, and the need for rehabilitation;
  • The sentencing range established by the sentencing guidelines;
  • Any Sentencing Commission policy statement for the offense;
  • The need to for similar sentences for people convicted of similar offenses;
  • The ability to pay any fines; and
  • Restitution.

Since the federal sentencing guidelines are advisory and not binding on the court, it is of paramount importance that you obtain an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will be able to prepare an effective sentencing memorandum for the Judge and argue the sentencing factors, so they are favorable for your case.

Federal Criminal Charge Representation in the District of NJ

Howard P. Lesnik, Esq., is a board-certified criminal trial attorney by the Supreme Court of New Jersey and is an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Lesnik provides highly personalized attention and representation. Mr. Lesnik accepts federal matters and implements a legal strategy designed to achieve a successfully result for every client. Mr. Lesnik’s preparation, investigation, research, legal strategy, negotiation and extensive trial skills ensures the success for his clients.

Contact My Office Immediately

Retaining an experienced federal criminal defense attorney from the beginning of your case can make all the difference. If you are a family member were arrested, investigated or questioned for a federal offense, contact me immediately so that I can review your federal charges from the very beginning. I can review your case and advise you as to all possible defenses to make sure that you are properly represented on your federal criminal charges. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.