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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.

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How Can a Federal Defense Attorney Help Reduce Your Prison Sentence?

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 21, 2023)

Last Updated on: 21st October 2023, 09:04 am


How Can a Federal Defense Attorney Help Reduce Your Prison Sentence?

Getting charged with a federal crime is scary. The stakes are so high. You’re looking at serious prison time. Where do you start? Who can help? A federal defense attorney is your best bet to put up a strong defense and get a reduced sentence.

The federal system is complex. The sentencing guidelines have so many moving parts. Mandatory minimums limit judicial discretion. You need an experienced attorney in your corner. Someone who knows the system inside and out. Who can identify every opportunity to reduce your exposure.

How Federal Sentencing Works

Federal sentences hinge on the sentencing guidelines. This is a big matrix that assigns points for the offense and your criminal history. More points means more prison time. The guidelines dictate a sentencing range for the judge to follow. But there’s wiggle room.

First, the government has to prove the right number of points. Disprove certain facts, and you lower the range. Second, judges can depart from the guidelines. But you need valid legal grounds. An attorney knows how to argue for a departure.

Mandatory minimums are a huge hurdle. These laws require fixed prison terms for federal crimes. Such as 5 or 10 years for drug offenses. No exceptions. But your lawyer may find exemptions. Like the “safety valve” for low-level drug couriers. Or substantial assistance departures for cooperating with the government.

How an Attorney Attacks Your Sentence

An experienced federal defense lawyer uses every angle to reduce your sentence. Here are some of their main strategies:

  • File pretrial motions to suppress evidence illegally obtained. Less evidence can lower your guidelines range.
  • Negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges or dismissed counts. Fewer counts mean fewer points.
  • Advocate for the lowest guidelines range possible. Challenge any disputable facts that raise your points.
  • Present mitigating circumstances to the judge. Family obligations, health issues, or military service may warrant a lower sentence.
  • Argue for a below-guidelines sentence. Even if the judge accepts the guidelines range, they can still sentence below it.
  • Explore exemptions from mandatory minimums. The “safety valve” and substantial assistance departures are two examples.
  • Object to mistakes in the presentence report. This report drives the guidelines calculation. Fixing errors lowers your range.

An attorney digs deep into the facts and law of your case. They challenge every point that pumps up your range. The goal is to peel away “enhancements” until the minimum remains.

When Does a Lawyer Start Working on Your Sentence?

Don’t wait until conviction to engage a lawyer. Sentencing work begins immediately. The earlier the better. Here’s a timeline:

  • Pre-charge – Once you know you’re under investigation, retain counsel to get ahead of the case.
  • Post-charge – Within days of an arrest, an attorney should start settlement talks with the prosecution.
  • Plea negotiations – Well before a trial or plea, negotiate for lesser charges and dismissed counts.
  • Pre-trial motions – File motions to suppress evidence, reduce charges, or dismiss the case.
  • Trial – Raise doubts about the facts to weaken the government’s case and lower the guidelines.
  • Conviction – Present mitigating factors and exceptions to mandatory minimums at sentencing.

This all takes extensive preparation. Your lawyer needs to dig up witnesses, records, and expert testimony. Waiting until sentencing is too late. The time to act is now.

How Much Can a Lawyer Reduce Your Sentence?

There are no guarantees. But skilled counsel makes a huge difference. One study found federal defendants who retained lawyers got prison terms over 30 months shorter on average. For drug trafficking, the difference was nearly 6 years.

An attorney can often deduct years off a sentence. In rare cases, they may avoid prison altogether. This depends on the strength of the evidence and charges. The weaker the government’s case, the more room to negotiate.

Even if you plead guilty, don’t give up hope. “Acceptance of responsibility” brings up to a 3-point reduction in the guidelines. That can shave months or years off your range. And departures provide further flexibility.

How Do You Find the Right Federal Defense Lawyer?

Pick an attorney with extensive experience in federal cases. Ask these key questions:

  • How many federal criminal cases have you handled?
  • What’s your success rate at suppressing evidence and getting charges dismissed?
  • How often do your cases go to trial versus a plea deal?
  • What’s your typical sentence reduction in plea negotiations?
  • Can you provide case examples of below-guidelines sentences you’ve obtained?

A decade or more of federal experience is ideal. Published trial victories and settlements are a good sign. An aggressive negotiator who drives hard bargains to reduce charges. This is the kind of lawyer you want.

Shop around and find someone you trust. Ask family, friends or other attorneys for referrals. Meet for a free consultation before hiring. Make sure they understand federal sentencing and are willing to fight for the lowest possible prison term.

Takeaway Tips

  • Retain an attorney immediately to get ahead of the case.
  • Negotiate for lesser charges and dismissed counts to reduce your guidelines range.
  • Challenge enhancements and argue for mitigating factors to decrease your sentence.
  • Explore exemptions from mandatory minimums.
  • Hire an experienced federal practitioner who knows how to work the system.

Facing federal prison time is daunting. But an attorney’s advocacy can make a huge difference. Don’t go it alone. With an aggressive defense lawyer in your corner, you can potentially reduce your sentence and avoid years behind bars.

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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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