This is the next post in our series on the handling of federal criminal cases in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last article discussed the types of cases typically handled in Federal Court. It is important to understand that many types of offenses are charged by the U.S. government and not just white collar crimes. One example of a common non-white collar charge is a case in which a felon possessed a firearm. If you find yourself facing an Indictment from the U.S. Attorney then you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. In this article we will discuss how one who has been convicted will be impacted by the federal sentencing guidelines.
Federal Judges are given a set of guidelines to follow when issuing sentences to those who have been convicted. The guidelines are not considered mandatory but, typically, Judges will follow them. The guidelines follow a structure for various offenses. If a person is convicted of selling crack cocaine, for example, then they will fall within a certain category. The guidelines will then add or subtract time from the suggested sentence based on the amount of drugs involved, whether the defendant was in possession of a weapon, whether the defendant accepted a guilty plea or went to trial, as well as other factors. The sentencing guidelines are highly complex and it is strongly suggested that a defendant retain counsel experienced in dealing with them.
Again, it is important to understand that a Judge is not obligated to follow the sentencing guidelines. This means that a Court may impose a harsher or more lenient sentence than what is suggested. If one is requesting a more lenient sentence then it will be important to present evidence showing that they have been a productive member of society. Such evidence can include proof of employment, letters from relatives, etc. It will also be necessary to show that you are not the typical type of defendant who appears in such cases. This is important as the guidelines are drafted with the “typical” defendant in mind.
Our Little Rock lawyers handle federal criminal charges throughout Arkansas. Many attorneys are not licensed in federal court and some may lack experience in arguing for a deviation from the federal sentencing guidelines. If you or a loved one have been charged by the U.S. government then contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.