I Was Convicted Of A Crime. What's Next?
Whether you were convicted by a judge or jury or pleaded guilty to a criminal offense, the next phase in the process is sentencing. A judge will determine what penalties you must face for your crimes. Judges have some discretion in sentencing (less so if the case involves mandatory minimum sentencing), but typical penalties include prison time, fines, restitution, and sex offender registration (in cases involving sex charges).
The Federal Sentencing Process
The federal sentencing guidelines produce recommended sentences. Guideline sentences are based on the specific characteristics of the offense committed and the prior history of the person convicted. After a conviction or guilty plea, the U.S. Department of Probation will create a pre-sentence report (PSR) that will contain a recommended sentencing range.
You also have the opportunity to present your own sentencing memorandum for the sentencing judge's consideration. This is your opportunity to tell the judge "your side" of the story – what the circumstances were surrounding the federal offense and your background – and ultimately attempt to persuade the judge that you deserve a lesser sentence.
The judge will review the PSR, your sentencing memorandum and the recommendation of the prosecutor to determine your appropriate sentence.
Expert Tip: Since the landmark decision of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), the United States Sentence Guidelines are "advisory" only, meaning judges are no longer required to impose a sentence within the guideline range. Thus, even if the guidelines provide for a severe sentence in a particular case, an experienced defense attorney can argue for a "downward variance" to persuade the court that the recommended sentence exceeds the penalty necessary to achieve the purposes of sentencing. See e.g., United States v. Autery, 555 F.3d. 864 (9th Cir. 2009) (affirming probation sentence, despite the recommended guideline sentence of 41-51 months in prison, based on the defendant's personal history and characteristics).
"Three Strikes" Sentencing Laws In Federal Court
The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 implemented mandatory life sentences for anyone who is convicted of a serious violent felony and who also at least one other serious felony conviction from state or federal court and another criminal conviction on his or her record.
Contact Patrick Roberts
It's important to have an experienced federal defense lawyer involved at sentencing. You have the opportunity to review the PSR and object to the information contained in it. Doing so may substantially lower the recommended sentencing range for your punishment. Consult with federal defense attorney Patrick Roberts at 800-760-9071 or send an email to get started. Roberts Law Group, PLLC is based in North Carolina.
North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.