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Accused of stalking Alec Baldwin. The case garnered nationwide attention, with USAToday, NYPost, and other media outlets following it closely.

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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

Todd Spodek is a second generation attorney with immense experience. He has many years of experience handling 100’s of tough and hard to win trials. He’s been featured on major news outlets, such as New York Post, Newsweek, Fox 5 New York, South China Morning Post, Insider.com, and many others.

In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

Why Clients Choose Spodek Law Group

The reason is simple: clients want white glove service, and lawyers who can win. Every single client who works with the Spodek Law Group is aware that the attorney they hire could drastically change the outcome of their case. Hiring the Spodek Law Group means you’re taking your future seriously. Our lawyers handle cases nationwide, ranging from NYC to LA. Our philosophy is fair and simple: our nyc criminal lawyers only take on clients who we know will benefit from our services.

We’re selective about the clients we work with, and only take on cases we know align with our experience – and where we can make a difference. This is different from other law firms who are not invested in your success nor care about your outcome.

If you have a legal issue, call us for a consultation.
We are available 24/7, to help you with any – and all, challenges you face.

Federal Sentencing and Appeals

By Spodek Law Group | October 20, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 27, 2023)

Last Updated on: 27th October 2023, 06:56 pm

Federal Sentencing and Appeals: A Guide for the Average Joe

Dealing with the legal system can be real confusing and intimidating for regular folks like you and me. This article aims to explain federal sentencing and appeals in simple terms, so you can understand your rights and options if you ever find yourself in this situation.

First off, sentencing happens after you’ve either pled guilty or been found guilty at trial. The judge decides your sentence based on things like:

  • The specific crime you were convicted of
  • Your criminal history
  • Federal sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums
  • Arguments from the prosecution and your defense lawyer about what sentence they think you should get.

The judge has to explain why they gave you the sentence they did. Some things they might consider are:

  • The circumstances of the crime and your role in it
  • Your background, character, and criminal record
  • Whether you seem genuinely sorry and willing to turn your life around
  • If the victim wants a longer or shorter sentence for you
  • If you cooperated with prosecutors and helped their case

After you’re sentenced, you can file an appeal if you think the trial court made some legal mistake, like letting in evidence they shouldn’t have or giving you a super harsh sentence. The appeals court won’t retry your whole case or hear new evidence – they just look at the record from the original trial and sentencing to see if some clear error happened.

How Criminal Appeals Work

To start an appeal, your lawyer has to file a “notice of appeal” within 10 days of your sentencing. This tells the court you plan to appeal. Next, the court reporters have to prepare transcripts of everything that was said at your trial and sentencing. Your lawyer will get copies of the transcripts and court documents and will write up a “brief” explaining why they think the trial court screwed up and why your conviction or sentence should be overturned.

The government gets to write their own brief arguing why your conviction and sentence were totally fine and should be upheld. Your lawyer may get to write a reply to their brief if they make some argument you want to respond to.

Eventually the appeals court will schedule an oral argument where each side’s lawyers get up and summarize their main arguments to the judges. The judges may ask questions about the case and challenge each side’s claims. After oral arguments, the judges will privately discuss the case and one will be assigned to write the court’s opinion.

The appeals court opinion will explain their decision and the legal reasoning behind it. If they find some error that affected your case, they might:

  • Throw out your conviction and order a new trial
  • Uphold your conviction but order a new sentencing
  • Modify your sentence if they think it’s unreasonable

But if the appeals court decides the trial court didn’t make any major mistakes, they’ll affirm your conviction and sentence. At that point you’re basically out of luck, unless the Supreme Court decides to take your case, which is super rare.

Common Issues in Criminal Appeals

There’s all kinds of issues that might come up in an appeal. Here’s some of the big ones:

  • Insufficient evidence – Saying there wasn’t enough evidence for the jury to reasonably convict you.
  • Unfair trial – Arguing something prejudiced the jury against you or prevented you from putting on a full defense.
  • Incorrect rulings – Saying the judge made mistakes in allowing or excluding evidence, jury selection, etc.
  • Prosecutorial misconduct – Claiming the prosecutor did something improper like commenting on your silence or making unfair arguments.
  • Ineffective assistance – Saying your defense lawyer screwed up and it hurt your case.
  • Sentencing errors – Arguing your sentence was unreasonable or the judge misapplied the guidelines.

Your lawyer has to raise any issues in your first appeal or else you might be barred from bringing them up later. Overall, appeals are hard to win – most convictions and sentences are affirmed. But it’s still important to exercise your right to appeal if you think the trial court got it wrong.

Waiving Your Right to Appeal

When making a plea deal, prosecutors will sometimes ask defendants to waive their right to appeal as part of the bargain. This means you agree not to file an appeal at all. This takes away your ability to challenge issues later, so think carefully before agreeing to it.

In some cases, you might be able to appeal only certain limited issues after a waiver, like if the judge sentences you above the agreed guideline range. Your lawyer can advise whether a waiver would be enforceable and if it’s worth signing away your rights.

Appealing Federal Sentences

Sentences can be appealed even after pleading guilty, unless your plea deal included an appeal waiver. The judge has to explain on the record why they chose the sentence, so the appeals court can review if they properly considered the sentencing factors and followed the right procedures.

If the appeals court finds the sentence unreasonable or that the judge miscalculated the guidelines, they may order a new sentencing hearing with a different judge. But they give a lot of deference to the original judge’s discretion, so sentencing appeals are hard to win.

Habeas Corpus Appeals

After you’ve gone through the direct appeal process, you can file a habeas corpus petition. This is a civil court action claiming your conviction or sentence violated your constitutional rights. For example, you could argue your lawyer was so bad it violated your right to counsel.

Habeas appeals are limited to major constitutional issues – you can’t just rehash arguments that were already rejected on direct appeal. There’s also a 1 year deadline after your conviction becomes final to file the habeas petition, so don’t wait too long.

Takeaways for the Average Joe

  • Listen to your lawyer’s advice about whether to appeal and your chances of winning.
  • You can appeal your conviction and/or sentence if you think the trial court seriously messed up.
  • The appeals court looks at the record for clear errors – they won’t retry the entire case.
  • Appeals are difficult to win, but important to protect your rights.
  • Know that appeal waivers in plea bargains forfeit your right to appeal.
  • Habeas corpus petitions allow constitutional challenges after direct appeals are exhausted.

The appeals process can be complicated even for lawyers, much less regular folks like you and me. But I hope this plain English guide helps you understand the basics if you ever need to know. And remember – you got rights under the law, even if the system seems stacked against you. So talk to your lawyer and fight for justice if you believe in your case!

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I was searching for a law firm with some power to help me deal with a warrant in New York . After 6 days I decided to go with Spodek Law Group. It helped that This law firm is well respected by not only the top law firms in New York , but the DA , Judge as well. I...

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It was my good fortune to retain Spodek Law Group for representation for my legal needs. From the beginning, communication was prompt and thorough. Todd, Kenneth and Alex were the first people I worked with and they all made me, and my company Qumana skincare feel comfortable and confident that the team was going to work hard for me. Everything...

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After meeting with several law firms, I chose the Spodek Law Group not only for their professionalism and experience, but for the personal attention given to me right from the initial consultation. It is important to recognize how crucial having the right legal team is when faced with potentially life altering events that impact families and the lives of loved...

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