Service & Results.

nyc criminal lawyers over 30 years of experienceWe Know How To Win Cases

Spodek Law Group handles tough cases
nationwide, that demand excellence.

Get Free Consultation

Faced 5+ Years in Prison

People Vs Joseph Amico

Covered by NYDaily News. Las Vegas man accused of threatening a prominent attorney and making vile remarks.

Faced 10+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Anna Sorokin

Covered by New York Times, and other outlets. Fake heiress accused of conning the city’s wealthy, and has an HBO special being made about her.

Faced 3+ Years in Prison

People Vs. Genevieve Sabourin

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

Faced Potential Charges

Ghislaine Maxwell Juror

Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.

Why Choose Us

Clients can use our portal to track the status of their case, stay in touch with us, upload documents, and more.

Regardless of the type of situation you're facing, our attorneys are here to help you get quality representation.

We can setup consultations in person, over Zoom, or over the phone to help you. Bottom line, we're here to help you win your case.

Law in the Media

View All

Meet Todd Spodek


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.

How Do Federal Sentencing Enhancements Work? Understanding Mandatory Minimums

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 20, 2023)

Last Updated on: 20th October 2023, 09:55 am


How Do Federal Sentencing Enhancements Work? Understanding Mandatory Minimums

If you’ve ever wondered how federal sentencing enhancements work and what mandatory minimums are all about, you’re not alone. This stuff can be super confusing, even for lawyers! But I’ll try to break it down in simple terms so we can all understand it better.

First off, what is a sentencing enhancement? Basically, it’s an extra punishment that gets added on top of the normal sentence for a particular crime. Congress passes laws creating these enhancements when they want to crack down on certain types of offenses.

For example, let’s say someone gets convicted of robbery. Robbery usually carries a sentence of 5 years in prison. But if the robber had a gun during the crime, there might be a sentencing enhancement that adds an extra 3 years to the sentence for using a firearm. So that robber would end up with 5 years for the robbery plus 3 years for the gun enhancement, for a total of 8 years behind bars.

Sentencing enhancements come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most common ones are:

  • Extra punishment for using a gun during a crime
  • Longer sentences for selling drugs near a school or park
  • Increased penalties for crimes motivated by hate or bias
  • Higher sentences for crimes committed by gang members

So enhancements let Congress single out certain factors that make a crime worse in their opinion, and ramp up the punishment for those offenses. Most enhancements add anywhere from 1 to 10 extra years to a defendant’s sentence.

When Do Sentencing Enhancements Apply?

Sentencing enhancements don’t automatically apply to every defendant convicted of a particular crime. The prosecutor has to actually charge the enhancement in the indictment and prove the facts supporting it during the trial or plea hearing.

For instance, if a defendant pleads guilty to bank robbery, the plea agreement may specify that a 2-year enhancement for use of a firearm will apply. The prosecutor would then have to present evidence showing the defendant did in fact use a gun during the robbery, like eyewitness testimony or surveillance footage.

If the evidence doesn’t support the enhancement, the judge can refuse to apply it at sentencing. Defendants often argue against enhancements to try and reduce their prison time. But overall, enhancements are used very frequently and can have a huge impact on sentences.

How Mandatory Minimums Interact with Enhancements

Now this is where things get even trickier! Many federal crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences that judges are required to impose no matter what. Let’s look at how mandatory minimums work with sentencing enhancements:

Going back to our bank robbery example, let’s say the normal sentence is 5 years, but there’s a 7-year mandatory minimum if a gun was involved. So with the 2-year enhancement for the firearm, the total sentence calculation would be:

  • 5 years for robbery
  • + 2 years for gun enhancement
  • = 7 years

But wait – the mandatory minimum for bank robbery with a gun is 7 years, which is higher than the total sentence. So in this case, the mandatory minimum overrides the normal sentence plus enhancement. The defendant would get 7 years total, not 9 years.

In other cases, the enhancement might stack on top of the mandatory minimum to extend the sentence. For example, if the mandatory minimum was 5 years, plus a 3 year enhancement for the gun, the total would be 8 years because the enhancement makes the sentence longer than the minimum.

As you can see, enhancements and mandatory minimums interact in complex ways. The bottom line is that enhancements can sometimes get trumped by a higher mandatory minimum, but other times they will increase the sentence beyond the minimum. It all depends on the specific numbers in each case.

Some Controversial Aspects of Sentencing Enhancements

While sentencing enhancements are designed to punish criminals more harshly, they’ve become controversial in some respects:

  • They undermine judges’ traditional sentencing discretion – Judges often feel their hands are tied and they’re forced to impose overly harsh sentences because of mandatory enhancements.
  • They lead to disproportionate sentences – Critics argue the enhanced penalties are often excessive compared to the actual criminal conduct.
  • They pressure defendants to plead guilty – Defendants will sometimes plead guilty to avoid facing a sentencing enhancement at trial even if they have a valid defense.
  • They hit minorities hardest – Studies show black and Hispanic defendants tend to get hit with enhancements more frequently than white defendants convicted of similar crimes.

Some judges have spoken out against mandatory sentencing enhancements for these reasons. But so far, most enhancements have been upheld as constitutional and remain on the books.

Real World Examples of Sentencing Enhancements in Action

To understand how sentencing enhancements work in practice, let’s look at some real cases:

U.S. vs. Angelos

Defendant Weldon Angelos was convicted of selling $350 worth of marijuana on three separate occasions. Normally, this crime would carry a sentence of about 1-2 years. But because Angelos had a gun on him each time, he got hit with a 55 year mandatory minimum sentence under the federal gun enhancement laws! The trial judge resigned in protest over having to impose such an excessive punishment.

U.S. vs. Young

Keith Young was part of a drug conspiracy that distributed crack cocaine in Washington D.C. His own role was relatively minor – he delivered a half-kilogram of drugs. But because of the amount of drugs the whole group distributed, Young faced a mandatory life sentence under the federal drug laws. The judge said that life sentence was “not appropriate” for Young’s conduct, but he had no choice but to impose it.

U.S. vs. Looney

Defendant Looney was convicted of possession of child pornography. His guidelines sentence was 27-33 months. But the prosecutor invoked a sentencing enhancement based on a prior conviction, which increased the sentencing range to 210-262 months. The judge said he would have sentenced Looney to 24 months based on the facts, but imposed the 210 month mandatory minimum required by the enhancement.

These cases illustrate how severe federal sentencing enhancements can radically increase sentences based on factors outside the defendant’s control, and force judges to impose years or even decades more time than they think is fair.

The Bottom Line

Sentencing enhancements and mandatory minimums are complex issues even lawyers struggle to understand. While enhancements are meant to punish crimes more harshly, they also limit judicial discretion and sometimes seem disproportionate to the offense. Understanding how enhancements work provides insight into the controversies surrounding federal sentencing laws. Hopefully this explanation demystifies these concepts a bit! Let me know if you have any other questions.


Free Consultation


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...

~Fonder Brandon

5 Stars
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...

~A G

5 Stars
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...

~George Cherubini

Spodek Law Group

White Glove Service

We Provide Superior Service, Excellent Results, At A Level Superior To Other Criminal Defense Law Firms. Regardless Of Where Your Case Is, Nationwide, We Can Help You.
View More

Request Free Consultation

Please fill out the form below to receive a free consultation, we will respond to
your inquiry within 24-hours guaranteed.


85 Broad St 30th Floor, New York, NY 10004


get directions

Los Angeles

611 S Catalina St Suite 222, Los Angeles, CA 90005


get directions


35-37 36th St, 2nd Floor Astoria, NY 11106


get directions


195 Montague St., 14th Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201


get directions
Call Now!