Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Over time, officials have developed a series of highly specific sentencing guidelines that apply in the federal court system. These sentencing guidelines are intended to help any judge decide how to respond to the defendants in front of them. The ultimate goal is to make sure that any sentence the judge imposes are not vastly different from a sentence imposed for a similar crime in another court. While these are guidelines, they are also not binding. The guidelines also allow the judge a certain ability to make choices based on the individual’s highly specific circumstances. These guidelines were originally created by Congress. Officials at the United States Sentencing Commission are entrusted with making sure such guidelines are created in ways that allow the judge to consider such factors. At the same time, they are also created to help the judge make sure they have a specific document they can use in order to help craft what may be a very important decision.
Basically the sentencing guidelines take many factors into account. Three of the most important factors are the: criminal history, the type of crime and the type of response the plaintiff has to the crime they’ve been found guilty of at this point in time. Of these factors, a person’s criminal history is one of the single most important considerations. Someone who has a long and extensive criminal history is someone who will generally be facing a much longer sentence that someone who has never been involved with the criminal justice system before. For example, if someone has a history that includes prior arrests and convictions for crimes of a serious nature. The same is not true for someone who has never been involved in the criminal justice system. Someone who has a minor conviction for driving without a license or jaywalking will not face the same charges. The age of the offense at the time may also be considered during this process. A judge has the right to see the person’s criminal history before making a decision about the sentencing they want to hand down.
Another thing that the judge will take into account is the type of crime. Certain crimes are deemed more dangerous than other crimes and may warrant an increased sentence. In general, many crimes are grouped together in the same category. For example, all those who commit bank fraud will be considered in the same sentencing category as others who commit the same type of crime. They will not generally be lumped in with same person who engaged in tax fraud or another crime that is only minimally related.
Other factors will also be taken into account. For example, a defendant pleas guilty that can also be taken as a form of remorse and considered in the sentencing guidelines. A judge may be more lenient on someone who admits to their behavior rather than someone who denies it even the face of overwhelming evidence. The same is true if the person used a firearm in the course of the crime.
Someone who has never been involved with the law, has admitted to guilt and shows remorse will generally fare better. The guidelines are intended to help. It’s important to keep in mind they are not mandatory. Good counsel can help make sure you present your case in the best possible light. They can prepare numerous documents for you that enables you to make sure that the judge keeps in mind every positive thing you’ve done as well as factors such as a lack of violence during the crime. Effective legal counsel can make sure that all necessary federal guidelines are followed.