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Federal guidelines limit judges sentencing options

| Feb 22, 2017 | Federal Criminal Defense

Facing federal charges is always a serious problem. Prosecutors representing the United States government are not going to use their resources to try a case without having a sense of certainty that there will be a conviction.  This means that if you are charged with a federal crime, you will have an uphill struggle when trying to defend yourself.

You should also understand that federal judges do not use their own discretion when issuing sentences. Rather, they are required to use pre-established mathematical formulas that are part of their guidelines.

So, what does this mean if you are charged with a federal crime? Well, on the plus side, since the sentencing is pretty much pre-determined, you have a very good idea of the punishments you will face if convicted.

The problem is that legal cases often involve nuances. In state and county courts, judges are allowed to take these nuances into account when making their decisions, which can be of great benefit to the defendant in some circumstances.

But because federal judges are restricted to using the imposed guidelines, they ironically are very limited in regard to using personal judgment when issuing sentences.

Because you face limitations regarding your possible outcome in a federal trial, it is vital that you have an attorney who has a thorough understanding of the guidelines that dictate sentencing practices.

An attorney can explain the possible risks and benefits offered by taking your case to court. And if it’s to your advantage, the attorney could act on your behalf to try to have your charges reduced through a plea bargain.