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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.

What Happens Before a Sentence is Imposed in Federal Court?

Federal criminal prosecution is a lengthy and complex process. Many months will pass between the entry of a verdict and the sentencing hearing, and it may seem as though the process has stopped. The entry of a judgment means the time limit to file post-trial motions begins.

More importantly, the official entry of a verdict initiates an active and crucial new phase in the judicial process: the presentence investigation (PSI) begins. The PSI is extensive, examining numerous aspects of an offender’s characteristics and background. The end result of the investigation is the presentence report (PSR), which the federal judge will use in the sentencing hearing. The PSR has a far-reaching impact and will affect the trajectory of an offender’s life in many ways.


Post-trial Motions

Anyone who disagrees with the verdict in their case because they believe it was affected by errors or misconduct has the right to file a post-trial motion. If a jury delivers a guilty verdict, the defense attorney will often file a post-trial motion requesting that the judge override a jury’s decision and either grant a new trial or acquit the defendant. A judge usually denies these motions. However, there are valid reasons for post-trial motions, such as when:

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 evidence was clearly insufficient to sustain the verdict.
  • A juror engaged in improper conduct.
  • The court did not have proper jurisdiction.
  • New evidence has been discovered.
  • The court obtained the judgment fraudulently.

Most post-trial motions must be filed within 28 days of the entry of a verdict; certain motions have a one-year window.

The Presentence Investigation

The PSI begins shortly after the entry of a guilty verdict or guilty plea. An official of the federal probation department is responsible for conducting the investigation. The primary purpose of the PSI is to assist the court in determining an appropriate sentence for the offender. The probation officer will conduct interviews, gather applicable documentation and review court records to develop a thorough picture of the offender’s character, personal history, criminal background and other factors that will affect sentencing.

After becoming familiar with the court case, one of the first things the probation officer will do is schedule a presentence interview with the offender. Later, he may also interview family and friends of the offender, victims, employers, school officials, doctors, the defense attorney, prosecutor and others. All the information gathered will be evaluated and used to create the PSR for the sentencing hearing.

Interview of the Offender

The probation officer will question the offender about his motive and involvement in the offense. Other topics of importance to the investigation include:

  • Criminal history
  • Personal and family history
  • Education
  • Employment history
  • Financial status
  • Military status
  • Physical health issues
  • Mental health issues
  • Alcohol and drug use

The offender has a legal right to have his attorney present at the interview. Therefore, the probation officer must give the defense attorney notice and opportunity to attend.

Any statements made by the offender in the interview can be used in the PSR, including details that weren’t permissible in the trial, such as hearsay or evidence obtained illegally.

The Presentence Report

Finally, after all relevant information is collected and evaluated, the probation officer will compute the sentence just as a federal judge would: by applying the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines put forth by the United States Sentencing Commission.
The guidelines use a point system to arrive at a sentence, using the seriousness of the offense and the offender’s criminal history. Adjustments are made for specific situations, such as the offender’s acceptance of responsibility, obstruction of justice, and degree of participation in the crime.

The PSR will include:

  • All documents and information collected in interviews
  • Recommended sentence based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Manual
  • Victim impact statements
  • Obstruction of justice adjustment if the offender made false statements in the presentence interview or otherwise obstructed justice
  • Acceptance of responsibility adjustment

After the PSR is complete, the probation officer will deliver it to the defense attorney and the prosecutor. Either party may object to elements of the report. The probation officer will consider the objections and either make revisions or have the sentencing judge resolve the issues at the sentencing hearing.

The Long-lasting Impact of the PSR

The PSR has an enormous impact on an offender’s life, especially if he is sentenced to federal imprisonment. The Federal Bureau of Prisons will use it to determine placement, programming and treatment needs. It can affect the offender’s:

  • Prison security level
  • Release date
  • Level of freedom upon release
  • Job opportunities and level of pay
  • Rehabilitation and education resources
  • Special physical or mental needs

A knowledgeable defense attorney who understands the federal justice system is essential in order to obtain the best possible sentencing outcome for an offender.

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