Domestic Violence

Navigating the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Crimes charged in Federal Court are subject to the onerous Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  Each crime is designated with an offense level that determines how many years in prison are in play for a minimal sentence.  Recent precedent gives the sentencing judge wide discretion in determining how much time should be served even when there are minimum mandatory sentences involved.

Crimes charged in Federal Court are subject to the onerous Federal Sentencing Guidelines.  Each crime is designated with an offense level that determines how many years in prison are in play for a minimal sentence.  Recent precedent gives the sentencing judge wide discretion in determining how much time should be served even when there are minimum mandatory sentences involved. 

In addition to the base offense level, there are factors that could increase or even decrease the guideline sentencing suggestion.  For example, if a gun was used or if someone was seriously injured, a typical drug case could be enhanced with a higher offense level.  The range of things that can increase a base offense level can be something as simple as obstructing the investigation to the fact that a private plane was used to import drugs. 

It’s also possible to decrease the offense level by doing anything from writing a letter of apology and taking responsibility for the offense, to showing that the role played in the offense was “minor” or even “minimal” in relation to the entire offense and the role played by others.  Someone who did not plan or orchestrate the crime should work for a reduction relative to the organizer.       

It’s also really important to know what kind of charge to accept before the plea agreement.  Accepting a charge like “importation” of drugs rather than to “conspiracy to import” may preclude the availability of arguing for mitigating role reductions.  The simple reason being is that if the offense charged is importation, and the person charged carried the drugs into the country, it is a lot harder to say he only had a minor role in the importation.   

However, if the offense is “conspiracy to import”, and the role was carrying the drugs into the country, the ability to argue that the importation was simply a minor or minimal part in relation to the entire conspiracy and relative to the role of others involved, it could shave off a few years of prison.   

Figuring out what is available and what is actually worth pursuing takes an experienced attorney to navigate through the Federal Code.  It seems overwhelming when faced with minimum mandatory sentences and maximum life sentences, but oftentimes, something can done to help reduce the total amount of prison time before sentencing. 

For more information on how to shave years off a sentence prior to sentencing call Coral Gables Federal Criminal Attorney Matthew E. Ladd for a free consultation, 305-665-3978.    

 

 

About Matthew Ladd

Federal Criminal Attorney practicing in Miami-Dade County with our office in Coral Gables. Matthew Ladd is a former prosecutor with the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office. He is a graduate of Syracuse University College of Law and received his bachelor's degree from Marshall University.

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