Sentencing Guideline Adjustments
Los Angeles Federal Criminal Defense Attorney
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Federal Sentencing Guidelines:
Criminal History in relation to the offense level:
According to the U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines, federal crimes can be classified in terms of
43 offensecategories. The offense level is matched up with the Criminal History Category (there are six different history categories) to determine sentencing. To find a recommended prison sentence, a judge simply cross-references the offense level with the Criminal History. For instance, an offender who commits a level 16 offense and who has a Criminal History of IV, according to the table, should get 33 to 41 months behind bars, all things being equal. Of course when you hire a seasoned federal criminal defense attorney you put yourself in a position to receive the lowest possible sentence. There is federal case law which permits the sentencing judge in a federal case to go below the applicable guideline range. Our
Los Angeles based federal criminal defense firm has the experience, expertise and abilities to reduce your sentence to the lowest possible in
Los Angeles federal court and across the Nation.
Determining the level of offense:
A base level offense is set by the United States Sentencing Commission to stress the seriousness of a crime. One of the highest levels of crimes is first degree murder, which has a base level of 43. One of the lowest levels of crimes is infringing on a copyright, which has a level of 9. The range of these numbers is calculated first, according to USSC. Then, other variables are accounted to lower or raise the number. For example, trespass has a base offense level of 4, while kidnapping has a base offense level of 32.
These variables can be argued in your favor by a skilled federal criminal defense attorney that has handled federal cases in the jurisdiction your case is pending. We successful handled many cases in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the Nation over many years of federal criminal defense practice.
Mitigating Factors –
Sentences can also be adjusted based on numerous factors, such as:
• Whether a vulnerable victim was harmed during the commission of the crime.
• Whether the defendant played a major or minor role. Ringleaders can face elevated offense levels; minor contributors can get lower offense levels.
• Whether the defendant cooperated with prosecutors or obstructed justice. Obstructing can get your offense level bumped up; cooperating can knock it down (Acceptance of Responsibility).
Not many people in the position of defendants realize that the sentencing table recommends a prison sentence and zone category. Zones have to do with probation. If your offense falls into Zone A, for instance, you can get straight probation. If your offense falls into Zone C, on the other hand, you may be eligible for probation, but you at minimum have to serve half of your sentence in prison; meaning, if you are eligible for probation you do not even have to serve the full statutory minimum sentence.
A mandatory minimum is a sentence, created by Congress or a state legislature, which the court must give to a person convicted of a crime, no matter what the unique circumstances of the offender or offenses are.
A “safety valve” is one of the only ways out of a mandatory minimum sentence. Safety valves are laws created by Congress or state legislature that let courts give an offender less time in prison than the mandatory minimum sentence requires.
The federal safety valve applies to only a certain type of drug offenders and is a strict five-part test and if all five requirements are met, the court must sentence a person below the mandatory minimum, generally by using the federal sentencing guidelines to create a sentence that fits the offender and his crime.
The five requirements:
- no one was harmed during the offense
- the offender has little or no history of criminal convictions
- the offender did not use violence or guns
- the offender was not a leader or organizer of the offense
- the offender told the prosecutor all that they know about the offense
Safety valves have many benefits. Safety valves give courts the flexibility to prevent unjust sentences; save taxpayers money; and protect public safety (people do not get more prison time than they deserve).
As to some drug offenses, a 2002 federal Justice Department report said that mandatory minimums “do not appear to influence drug consumption or drug-related crime in any measurable way. A variety of research methods concludes that treatment-based approaches are more cost-effective than lengthy prison terms.”
Sending people to prison on the pretence of deterring crime is futile, ineffective, and counterproductive. Don’t be a victim of unfair sentencing.
At Hedding Law Firm we will discuss all your options and will work diligently to fight your case for you. Contact Hedding Law Firm in Los Angeles for a free face to face confidential consultation.