Before the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were adopted, there was a well-known “fairness” problem in federal sentencing. Depending on which part of the country a sentence was imposed, there could be huge proportionality problems. For example, a federal court in Miami, Florida might treat a drug conviction with more leniency than the same drug conviction in Wichita, Kansas just because drugs and drug distribution were more common in Miami.

In 1987 the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were adopted in order to promote uniformity in sentencing. The Guidelines set out a range for federal judges to use during sentencing.  The range was determined by the crime and the offender’s criminal history. Between 1987 and 2005, it was mandatory for federal judges to impose a sentence within the specific resulting Guideline range. in 2005 United States v. Booker was decided by the United States Supreme Court. Booker held that the Guidelines were unconstitutional as applied. This resulted in making the Guidelines “advisory” only. This meant that the Guidelines would no longer have a chokehold on federal sentencing and were to be seen as only “suggesting” a sentence which the Court was no longer mandated to follow. Other cases were decided after Booker which further clarified the new flexibility in the Guidelines. These cases made it clear that although the Guidelines still carry weight and should be consulted, federal judges are free to impose sentences which they feel are appropriate in each specific case.

A sentence under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines is determined using multiple factors.  First, each crime is assigned an “offense level.”  Each crime has its own base offense level, and the level can then increase or decrease due to specific offense characteristics such as amount stolen or weight of the narcotics involved. Second, the defendant is given a criminal history score from one to six based on their past criminal conduct, if any. The point on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Chart where the offense level and the criminal history category intersect is the range in months that the offender could spend in prison.

With the freeing up of the guidelines since 2005, hiring an experienced and successful lawyer can make all the difference in the world. A major part of federal criminal defense is sentencing practice, and having the right attorney can make the difference between years in prison and probation or time served. Federal Sentencing Lawyer Gabriel L. Grasso has been handling federal sentencing cases for over 20 years and has achieved some amazing results.

On August 7, 2018, Mr. Grasso handled the case of United States v. C.T. The guidelines suggested a sentence of 63 months, but after a presenting the court with arguments showing why his client should be treated differently and how the Guidelines would allow it, the Judge sentenced C.T. to time served, throwing out the 63-month guidelines sentence. It really is true, hiring the right lawyer can make all the difference.

If you are facing a federal sentencing and want top-notch representation, call Las Vegas federal criminal defense attorney Gabriel L. Grasso for a free consultation.

Mr. Grasso with C.T. after his successful sentencing