If you’re convicted of or plead guilty to a federal felony, you’ll attend a hearing where the judge will decide what your sentence will be. This sentencing is not automatic, and the judge has a lot of leeway for reduced felony sentencing. This leeway falls under the scope of federal sentencing guidelines.
If you’re facing charges for a federal crime, you want the least restrictive sentence available. The criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellet & Derrico are ready to use their years of experience to fight for you. Contact us today at (540) 343-9349.
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The United States Sentencing Commission is a federal agency that recommends sentences for federal felony cases. The Commission created the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Federal judges are required to consider these guidelines when they make their decisions. Judges must look at the severity of the crime you’ve been convicted of, as well as your past criminal history.
These guidelines provide a recommendation for your sentence. However, it’s just that – a recommendation. Your judge must consider it, but can make up their own mind about what your sentence should be. The information your attorney presents at the hearing can sway the judge towards a reduced sentence.
What To Expect at Your Sentencing Hearing
The first thing to keep in mind is that a sentencing hearing is not about guilt or innocence. Since you’ve been convicted of or pled guilty to a crime, that’s already been decided in the eyes of the court. The purpose of this hearing is only to determine what kind of sentence you will receive.
The prosecutor and victim(s) have a chance to speak to the judge at the hearing and offer their points of view. Your attorney plays a very important role at this point in the process. They speak directly to the judge and explain all of the facts and evidence that support you getting the lightest sentence possible. Your attorney will use the following factors (where applicable) to persuade the judge that you should receive a reduced felony sentencing:
- Your limited past criminal history (or lack of criminal history)
- The fact that you were only an accessory and not the main party involved in the crime
- Details about the crime that show it was not severe or violent
- Information that shows the victim(s) was not hurt or not severely hurt
In addition to arguing for a light sentence, if you have been convicted of or pled guilty to more than one crime, your attorney will argue that your sentences should run concurrently, reducing your total time spent incarcerated.
The Importance of Your Own Statement
At the hearing, you have the opportunity to speak to the judge. Your own personal statement to the court is crucial. It may be the only time the judge hears from you directly. This is your chance to present your situation, your point of view, and all of the things about you that point towards a lighter sentence.
While you will be talking to the judge yourself in this situation, you should never do so without your attorney thoroughly preparing you for the situation. An experienced criminal attorney will help you practice exactly what you should say. They will steer you towards positives to highlight, and turn you away from saying anything that might damage your case.
Get the Representation You Deserve
Your federal sentencing hearing will greatly affect the next several years of your life. It’s essential that you work with an attorney who is experienced, knowledgeable, and able to present the best argument possible on your behalf. The criminal defense team at Copenhaver, Ellet & Derrico are ready to help you.
Contact us today at (540) 343-9349to get started.