The sentences associated with a federal conviction are generally substantially longer than those associated with a state court conviction. This is typically because strong federal sentencing standards are in place in the United States and because the maximum punishment for federal offenses is much more than the maximum punishment for state crimes.
District judges are expected to refer to the United States Sentencing Guidelines when imposing sentences on federal criminals since they were developed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to do away with disparities in punishment for offenses adjudicated in courts across the country. Read on to learn how this practice works and then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 right away if you require help from a federal defense attorney.
How the rules work
According to the standards, a federal crime is given an “offense level” that takes into account its seriousness and type. Each type of crime is given a base offense level, which serves as the beginning point for establishing the appropriate punishment for the charge. Based on the particulars of the defendant’s case, this base level (and the sentence the defendant receives) may subsequently be increased or decreased.
For instance, the base offense level for the crime of embezzlement is six. The base level rises by two to eight if the fraud results in a loss of more than $6,500. The base level rises by four, to a total of 10, if the fraud results in a loss of more than $15,000. There are further changes that can make the offense level higher or lower. The offender’s involvement in the crime, victim-related modifications, and obstruction of justice are a few examples. The offense level might go down, for instance, if the offender had a minimal role in the crime. The offense level could rise if the criminal interfered with the administration of justice.
Categories of crimes at the federal level
In accordance with any prior convictions, the sentencing guidelines also classify criminals into one of six Criminal History Categories. The least serious category is Category I. Many first-time offenders fall into this category. The most serious category, Category VI, is normally only used for offenders with significant criminal histories.
The point on the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s sentencing table where the final offense level—the base offense level plus or minus any specific offense characteristics and adjustments—and the Criminal History Category intersect is used to determine the appropriate sentencing guideline range for a given criminal offense. For instance, the range for a sentencing guideline for a criminal history category I offender with a level 10 offense would be 6–12 months.
As you can see, there are many factors that go into sentencing at the federal level. A criminal defense attorney can work to have charges reduced or dismissed, or argue before a judge that the maximum guidelines should not be administered. To find out what your best options are, contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 now for a free legal consultation.