What You Need To Understand About Sentencing

Sentencing

      The United States Sentencing Guidelines Commission is advisory now and that means the Judge does not have to follow the guidelines, but in most cases are persuaded by them. The guidelines book characterizes each offense differently.  A thorough review of your guidelines and your criminal history will be necessary in order to be able to give you an accurate picture of what potential sentence you are facing.  As you can well expect, the more prior convictions that you have, the higher your criminal history will be.  One thing worth noting is that Federal Court computes its sentences in terms of months not years.  So, in other words, a sixty-month sentence would translate into a five-year sentence.

      The only way to get below the mandatory minimum and/or your applicable guideline range is to either request a “safety valve downward departure or a 5K1 downward departure.” 

      For a Safety Valve Downward Departure, you must have no prior conviction and a position to make a full and truthful statement to the Prosecutor in the case.  Often times this can just be a recital of your involvement in the case.  This will probably be sufficient to avail yourself a safety valve downward departure from the court.  The Federal Courts do not often grant these departures, but our firm has had success requesting and receiving downward departures for our clients.

      As for the 5 K1 Downward Departure, this will require that you provide testimony against other individuals in order to receive this departure.  The general rule of thumb is that your sentence could be cut in half.  However, this requires a decision on your part to become a government witness against other individuals.  This would include you providing information as well as testifying against other individuals.  This is a decision that you and only you can make after evaluating the government’s case and your applicable guidelines.  You will want to balance many factors including the potential relief that you would receive from the 5K1 Downward Departure, as well as how comfortable you are providing testimony against other individuals.  Some case, it will be in your best interest to seek a 5K1 Downward Departure.  However, in other cases, it may not be of much benefit or even available to you.  Either way, your decision to seek a 5 K1 Departure or to proceed without offering assistance to the government, is a decision that you alone can make and will be respected by our firm.


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