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When you’re facing a federal issue, you need an attorney whose going to be available 24/7 to help you get the results and outcome you need. The value of working with the Spodek Law Group is that we treat each and every client like a member of our family.

How Does Federal Sentencing Work?

How Does Federal Sentencing Work?

Federal sentencing guidelines are a set of rules federal judges must follow, or at least consider, when sentencing someone found guilty of committing a federal crime. Enacted to provide federal judges with consistent and fair maximum and minimum sentencing ranges to refer to when delivering a sentence, these guidelines take the seriousness of the crime, the offender’s criminal record, and other characteristics into account.

The guidelines are not mandatory. However, federal judges are advised to consider and follow them. Any judge who deviates from the guidelines by imposing a harsher or more lenient sentence than the guidelines dictate must explain their reason for doing so.

How Sentencing Guidelines Work

Established in 1984 by the United States Congress, the United States Sentencing Commission developed the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual. In the manual, a specific calibration of sentences is laid out according to total offense level and defendant criminal history.

According to the guidelines, most federal crimes are assigned an offense level from one to 43. The greater the severity of the crime, the higher the number. Federal criminal defendants are also assigned a number from one to six based on their past criminal history.

George FernandezGeorge Fernandez
14:16 30 Apr 24
Excellent 10 out of 10, Helped resolve my case. Jeremy explained everything and made everything easy to understand.
21:33 24 Apr 24
If you are looking for a lawyer that listens, is aggressive where needed, and holds his word above all else, Todd is the best pick. I had hired multiple attorneys prior to hiring the Spodek Group for a white collar case. The first thing that stood out to me was the cost, as anyone going through the process and dealing with the system, money was tight at that time - especially after hiring and firing multiple lawyers. The cost was not as high as others which was definitely a plus. Todd's intake process was also unlike other attorneys. He took the time to actually listen. He cared. He was trying to put himself in my shoes while I was explaining the situation to him and he really took the time to understand the whole situation. Other lawyers will give you 15 mins and send you a retainer agreement. Not Todd, I think he spent almost two hours with me as I was explaining everything.Not only was he great during the onboarding process, he was supportive and very informative through the entire plea process and eventually sentencing. After hiring him, I asked if I should hire a prison consultant, he told me to save my money as he would do everything they would. He was right and held up to his word. Later on I would hear from others that went with the prison consultants that they were a waste of money - I am glad I listened to Todd!When it came time for sentencing, two days prior to sentencing, the prosecutor tried increasing my proposed prison time by almost double - apparently a normal move. Todd and his team worked with me non-stop through the weekend prior to sentencing to ensure that I was not given additional prison time. Again, he took the time to listen and came up with a strategy to explain the case with great detail.Unfortunately, I did plead guilty as that was my best option. Todd and his whole team wrote up nearly 300 pages of a summary of what happened and why I should not be given prison time. If I breakdown the amount I spent with Todd versus the amount of work that I saw being done, I am shocked I was not charged four times as much. The other benefit was, a lot of criminal defense lawyers were just a single attorney with a paralegal or two. Todd had a team of people that I dealt with (5-7 people that I interacted with), but he was ALWAYS accessible. It would never take him more than an hour to reply unless he was in court.I was sentenced to prison and I was emotionally distraught. Todd and his team did whatever they could even after sentencing to make sure I was alright. He personally stayed in touch with my family to ensure I was doing alright and offered support to them. Most lawyers would consider the job complete at sentencing, not Todd.After prison, Todd still spent time with me to make sure I was on the right track and avoiding any potential risks in the future. He has also been giving advice on how to navigate probation etc and has not been looking at the clock for billing.Although I wish I had never been arrested in the first place, I am glad I had Todd and his team in my corner. Without them I likely would have had to spend a lot more time in prison than I did.Thank you, Todd, and the entire Spodek Law team, for helping turn what was a nightmare into a manageable situation!
Yelva Saint-PreuxYelva Saint-Preux
19:26 19 Apr 24
I am immensely grateful to the entire team at Spodek Law Group for their unwavering dedication and exceptional expertise throughout my case. From our initial consultation to the final resolution, their professionalism and tireless advocacy made all the difference. Their strategic approach and attention to detail instilled confidence in me every step of the way.Thanks to their hard work and commitment, we achieved a truly favorable outcome that exceeded my expectations. Not only did they navigate the complexities of my case with precision, but they also provided invaluable support and guidance during what was undoubtedly a challenging time. I cannot recommend Spodek Law Group highly enough, especially attorneys Todd Spodek and Claire Banks; they are beacons of excellence in the legal profession.YSP.
Katherine SunKatherine Sun
18:08 18 Apr 24
my lawyer is Alex Zhik. Efficient, patient and professional
Nun yaNun ya
17:48 18 Apr 24
Todd, Ralph and Alex are amazing. Helped my husband get from a double digit number with multiple charges to a single digit, by the time I blink he will be out. They very professional and help with all your needs. They dealt with my anxiety and worry very well and they understand that your family member needs to get home as soon as possible.
Keisha ParrisKeisha Parris
20:45 15 Mar 24
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko BeautyTaïko Beauty
16:26 15 Mar 24
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence.Thank you team!
K MarK Mar
01:37 25 Jan 24
I recently had Spodek Law Group represent me for a legal matter in NYC and I am thoroughly impressed with their services.Alex Zhik secured the best possible outcome for my case.It was a seamless journey from the initial consultation to the resolution of my legal matter. From the moment I spoke to Todd about my case, his enthusiasm to help was evident, setting a positive tone for the entire experience. The efficiency and professionalism displayed by the team is commendable.A particularly noteworthy aspect of their service is their user-friendly portal to upload your documents/evidence. This not only simplified the process, but showcases their commitment to streamline the client experience.Lastly, in an industry where legal fees can often be a concern, I found their pricing to be very reasonable, making needing legal assistance feel accessible and stress-free.I am grateful for their support and wouldn't hesitate to turn to them again in the future.

The criminal history and offense level numbers are then plotted on a sentencing table. The offense level is plotted on the vertical axis, while the criminal history number is plotted horizontally. An offender’s sentencing range is determined by the point in which they intersect.

Federal judges are advised to deliver a sentence within the guideline range. If not, they must defend their position and state their reason for doing so by identifying any extenuating circumstances or factor overlooked by the Sentencing Commission (United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

Offense Levels

As discussed above, offense levels are based upon the seriousness of the crime. There are 43 levels of seriousness. Every offense has a base offense level. At the top of the spectrum with a offense level of 43 is first-degree murder. Burglary of a residence, on the other hand, has an offense level of 17.

These levels, however, are just base levels. In other words, they are just a starting point. To determine a final offense level, any adjustments and specific offense characteristics must be added or subtracted from the base offense level.

Offense Level Adjustments

Adjustments are specific factors generally applicable to any offense, and they have the power to decrease or increase the offense level.

Some examples of offense level adjustments include:

• Two level increase if the defendant obstructed justice
• Two level increase if the defendant knew the victim was underage or suffering from a mental or physical condition
• Two level decrease if the defendant clearly accepts responsibility
• Three level increase if the crime was motivated by hate
• Four level decrease if the defendant was a minimal participant

Specific Offense Characteristics

For specific offenses, there may be particular factors or characteristics that can raise the offense level. Therefore, these “specific offense characteristics” can also affect a judge’s sentencing.

Some examples of special offense characteristics include:

• One level increase if a burglary results in loss above $5,000
• Five level increase if a burglary results in loss above $1,500,000
• Five level increase if a firearm was brandished during a robbery

Criminal History

The second major element of the sentencing guidelines is the criminal history of the offender. Offenders are assigned to one of six different criminal history categories. These categories are based upon the recency of past crimes and the length of the sentences handed down. Category I is for first-time offenders and those with less serious criminal records.

Departures from the Guidelines

Lastly, a judge must consider whether or not there are any mitigating or aggravating circumstances not taken into account by the Sentencing Commission when formulating the guidelines (18 U.S.C. § 3553(b)). If a judge determines such a circumstance exists, a sentence can be given below or above the guideline range. However, the reason for doing so must be stated in writing.

Appealing a Federal Sentence

If you have been sentenced in a federal court, you have a constitutional right to appeal the verdict or sentencing decision. Decisions made in federal district court can be appealed by filing a motion with the United States Circuit Court of Appeals. If your appeal has already been heard by the Circuit Court, you can take your appeal to the Federal Supreme Court. However, they rarely grant permission to hear appeals cases.

Your Federal Criminal Defense Team

While sentencing in federal and state criminal cases is quite similar, there are important procedural differences that require the expertise of an experienced federal attorney. Federal investigators are persistent in finding the information needed to build a case against you. You need an attorney who will be even more persistent in your defense.

Regardless of the specifics of your case, our criminal defense attorneys have a wealth of experience defending clients in both state and federal cases. We are here to protect your best interests and ultimately your freedom, so call or contact us today.

The federal sentencing guidelines are the rules that set the sentencing policy for defendants convicted of committing federal crimes under the United States Federal Court System. The guidelines were initially created in 1987. The guidelines have set out a clear calibration of sentences depending on the veracity of crime committed. It is the role of the judge to scrutinize the crimes committed and compare them with the guidelines provided to determine the sentencing for the defendant. These guidelines are however not mandatory. However, if a judge decides to use his or her own discretion instead of following the guidelines, he or she must explain what factors made him come to that decision. If it is a sentence increase or decrease, there must be a clear reason why it was done.

If you are convicted of a federal crime or someone close to you has been convicted either through a trial or pleading guilty, it is necessary to know how the sentence to be handed over will be arrived at. For a federal crime, judges must follow the federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines are created by an independent commission known as the Sentencing Commission and set the sentencing that different federal crimes should carry. As a convict, it is important to understand the sentencing that you will probably get so that you can decide whether it is admissible or an appeal is required.

The federal sentencing guidelines were created after the Congress passed the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 to create a standard sentencing manual that will be used by all judges. There was concern that judges from different jurisdictions where rendering too lenient and others too much sentencing. The manual award points depending on factors such as the defendants a criminal history, how the crime was committed, and the type of crime committed. A defendant who gets one point only is given the minimum sentencing of six months in jail, and one who grades the maximum 43 points automatically receives a life sentence. Although the guidelines are meant to be mandatory, some judges consider them too harsh or too rigid to be applied in practice.

The federal sentencing guidelines are therefore considered as advisory and not mandatory. What this means is that judges can consult the manual, but they do not have to impose a sentence based on it. Also, under the federal sentencing guidelines, a judge is not allowed to enhance a sentence. Enhancement is only permitted when the defendant accepts to have committed a crime, or a grand jury has verified that the charges were true. For instance, a judge may enhance sentencing for a defendant who confesses injuring a person in the process of committing another crime. In this case, the defendant must have agreed that the injury occurred or a jury concluded the defendant caused the injury.

When a federal judge is making considerations on the sentence to hand over to a convict, some factors need to be taken into account. What is the criminal record of the defendant? If a person has never been convicted in the past for criminal case, they are likely to get shorter sentencing. However, if the defendant has committed lots of crime in the past, the history will be used to hand over longer sentencing.

The judge must also look at the crime committed. For instance, if a defendant was involved in bank fraud, they will look at other cases involving fraud and they will try to show whether the current case is adverse or lenient.

The judges will also consider whether the defendant was convicted through trial or after a guilty plea. A different who has pleaded guilty is likely to enjoy a few points deducted based on the federal sentencing guidelines. However, if a crime affected many victims, the chances are that the judges will add the points resulting in longer sentencing. So as a defendant, you are supposed to work with a seasoned attorney who understands the basic framework of the law and will help you in getting the most deserved sentencing.

Appeal and withdraw of a guilty plea

Under the federal criminal system, a defendant is allowed to withdraw a guilty plea or even appeal a case after conviction. However, there are guidelines that must be observed when the courts are deciding whether to allow withdrawal of a guilty plea to happen. Such a move should be made within a short time after the guilty plea has been made and the defendant proves beyond reasonable doubt that the guilty plea was made out of an error. Factors such as the innocence of the defendant or a change in law are considered when a withdrawal of a guilty plea is being heard. For an appeal, the defendant must file a notice of appeal within ten days after conviction and then provide a written brief within 30 days. The prosecution will also have 30 days to respond to the appeal before the appellate judges start to hear the case.

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