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Federal Sentencing Guidelines

In Florida, as is the case throughout the country, a successful criminal defense attorney must have years of training, instruction and courtroom experience to qualify as a professional that would be an asset to individuals needing help when accused of a crime by the state or a local jurisdiction.

However, when it comes to trying cases in the federal courts, many lawyers don't have the educational background or experience in federal trials needed to be characterized as an expert in the field of federal criminal defense.

My law office is devoted to all aspects of criminal defense law however my extended educational background as well as my continuing legal edification by attending the latest seminars and keeping up-to-date with the constantly changing rules and regulations of the federal criminal legal system presents my law firm as a top choice in the Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County areas when an individual is in urgent need of a proficient federal criminal defense attorney.     

Throughout the pages of this Website, I offer many different topics for you to read that directly deal with federal criminal law, the history of these topics and their effects on present day federal trials. These topics are meant to shed light on the areas of federal law that many criminal defense attorneys fail to include in their syllabus relating to the type of law they practice as they have no need to be familiar with this area of the law.

Below is another topic of federal criminal law that an attorney who defines themselves as a specialist in federal criminal defense must be up-to-date and familiar with.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are regulatory rules that set out a standardized policy for sentencing persons and groups that are convicted of felonies and significant Class A misdemeanors arising from trials that are held in the federal courts which have resulted in a conviction.

These guidelines were fashioned in 1984 by the Sentencing Reform Act as part of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act, a federal statute that was passed with strong bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. It was formulated by the newly formed United States Sentencing Commission which was also created by the Sentencing Reform Act at the same time. The Act's intention was the proliferation of consistency in sentencing for those found guilty of crimes by federal courts. Until then, studies had shown that there were major disparities in sentences handed down by judges throughout the federal court system.

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Table is made up of 43 offense levels within 4 zones. The numeric value of the offense levels (1-43) are defined by simple numbers. Zone A contains offense levels 1-8. Zone B contains offense levels 9-11. Zone C contains offense levels 12-13 and Zone D is comprised of offense levels 14 through 43. Additionally the table contains 6 categories that determine points based on criminal history that is defined by Roman Numerals "I through VI". The greater the level relating to the severity of the offense, the higher the numeric value equally combined with a more intensive criminal history defines the amount of minimum time the sentence should be.
See below chart:
A judge may rule to increase the jail time recommended by the guidelines based on numerous dynamics. If a death resulted from the commission of the crime that led to the conviction, or if the victim suffered extreme physical injury due to the actions of the convicted defendant, either of these circumstances may pose a motivation that will cause a judge to heighten the penalty, depending on their frame of mind, personal opinions and conclusions after a verdict is reached.

Other acts that may cause a judge to impose a harsher sentence are crimes of kidnapping or unlawful restraint. Additionally, if a dangerous weapon was used in a crime a judge may likely see that as a reason to elevate the sentence beyond the limits of the guidelines as well as doing so for a hate crime, committing a crime against the handicapped or elderly, or reckless endangerment during a convicted felon's attempt at escape from law enforcement before their arrest took place.

The above are only a few of the reasons a judge may use the guidelines for their basic standards but add to them, based on their personal assessment of the severity of the crime.

Similarly, a judge may also be willing to reduce the amount of time for a sentence by using the guidelines as a benchmark, but deducting jail time and/or monetary penalties at their own discretion in cases such as when the convicted individual shows an overwhelming and obvious sense of remorse.

They may also lower the length of a sentence if a death resulted, however it was the product of a mercy killing, or if it were proved that the convicted individual acted under reduced mental capacity or duress at the time the crime occurred. There are many other instances why a judge may decide to act in this manner but a knowledgeable federal defense attorney will know how to prep their client to obtain this type of outcome before and after the conclusion of a trial that resulted in a conviction; before a sentence is imposed.

When you need a qualified federal criminal defense attorney call me at the earliest time possible whether you believe a federal investigation has been initiated or after an arrest has been made by federal law enforcement. To view my qualifications and find out what you should do if you are arrested and charged with any federal crime, click here.

To view the latest Federal Sentencing Guidelines from the United States Sentencing Commission (, click here