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How Do The Sentencing Guidelines Work In Federal Criminal Court?

Since 1986, sentencing in federal court is done according to United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual. In the early 2000s, that manual became advisory rather than obligatory. The judge is required to consider the manual and the correctly calculated guideline range but is not bound by the guideline range. Whether or not you are eligible for probation will revolve around the specific guidelines for your case. The guidelines manual creates different guideline sections for different types of crimes. Each one of those guideline sections assigns a numerical value to the characteristics of the offense and a numerical value to the characteristics of the defendant.

Those two values are then charted to come up with a guideline range. If the guideline range includes probation, there is a good chance that you might be able to get probation. Even if the guideline range does not include probation, your lawyer can advocate before the judge as to why the judge should depart from the guidelines. Some crimes have mandatory minimum sentences. If the crime you have been convicted of carries a mandatory minimum sentence, then you will not be eligible for probation.

I’ve Been Offered A Plea Bargain In My Federal Case. Should I Accept The Plea Bargain?

Whether or not to plead guilty is left entirely to the discretion of the client. It is an intensely personal decision that you are going to have to make based on your feeling as to the benefits or drawbacks of going to trial. Most people feel a lot of pressure to plead guilty in order to have some certainty as to the outcome of their case. It is important when you are making this sort of life altering decision that you be accompanied by someone who has experience in this area and can accurately counsel you as to the benefits and drawbacks of pleading guilty in your case.

Will I Serve My Entire Sentence In A Federal Case?

In federal court, the law states that you must serve approximately 85% of your sentence. Parole has been abolished in the federal system. If you are sentenced to prison, you will not be paroled. You can receive good time credit. Good time credit reduces the time spent incarcerated to 85% of the time that a person is sentenced to. Beyond good time credit, certain programs are available that allow people to sometimes be released early. One of those programs is for people with substance abuse issues. If they have been through the 500 substance abuse program, they can be released from prison up to a year early. Another thing that we are increasingly seeing is that the Bureau of Prisons is electing to change the conditions of an individual’s confinement such that they are confined at a halfway house or under home confinement during part of their sentence.

Should I Try And Work With Federal Authorities? What Good Will It Do?

Whether or not you cooperate with the authorities once you have a lawyer is a very complicated, fact specific question. It will depend on the evidence against you and the evidence that you have to offer to the federal authorities. It will also entail a weighing of the benefits versus the drawbacks. In this area, it is important to have a competent criminal defense attorney who can advise you and make sure that the government keeps its end of the bargain.

For more information on Sentencing Guidelines In Federal Cases, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 228-5900 today.

The Reynal Law Firm

The Reynal Law Firm