Drafting Federal Sentencing Memorandum Requires Expertise

Sentencing Memorandum: Why you need an experienced attorney versed in sentencing

Robert R. Robles, attorney takes a comprehensive approach to the federal sentencing process. He typically spends extensive time with clients and their families and prepares a detailed sentencing memorandum, telling the client’s story and highlighting the factors that a judge must consider in imposing sentence.  There are many factors that the court will consider and these factors are referred to as:   Section 3553 factors; these sentencing details include the circumstances and seriousness of the offense, the need for deterrence, the background and character of the defendant, and whether he or she is likely to engage in more criminal conduct.

A Oklahoma businessman was found guilty as part of an alleged drug trafficking scheme. The Robles firm was hired after plea negotiations to represent the client during sentencing. The client’s recommended Sentencing Guidelines range was 108‑135 months in prison‑‑roughly 9 to 11 years. Mr. Robles  presented comprehensive written and oral materials to the U.S. District Court and argued for a significant downward variance under the Sentencing Guidelines and United States v. Booker.

The Court sentenced the client to probation after a relatively short incarceration.

An Oklahoma City businessman was charged over 50 counts of conspiracy, drug trafficking and transporting marijuana across state lines with the intention of selling drugs,  a multi‑count Indictment alleging several thousand pounds of marijuana blamed on my client.  Robert R. Robles was hired after the Indictment was returned.

I negotiated a plea agreement and the client received a very short prison sentence and felony probation following a hotly contested sentencing hearing after 49 counts were dropped. The client was looking at 250 years of imprisonment.

A businessman,  client, faced indictment as a straw man in a federal government (Federal Grand Jury) investigation involving the illegal raising of money for contributions to corrupt Oklahoma politicians during  political campaigns.  Straw men would contribute funds to political campaigns, the money was supplied by political party operatives to influence the outcome of elections.  With superior legal strategy and negotiation, the investigation returned a no bill from the grand jury.  The client was not indicted nor charged.

These are just a few of the stories of success with no bad surprises other than the hard earned conclusion  related to successful representation.

Why You Need a Federal Sentencing Lawyer

Most people are unaware that there is no parole in the federal criminal justice system. Individuals convicted of a federal offense will typically serve at least 85 percent of their prison sentences  even if they obtain time off for good behavior. A minimum of one year and one day must be served before time off for good behavior begins to be awarded. It is extremely important to retain a  criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in federal sentencing issues in order to make your case effectively for a reduced sentence. This is because the advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines are highly complex, particularly in drug and white collar cases. Equally critical, determining the “amount of loss” under the Guidelines has an enormous and potentially devastating effect on the sentence that a white collar defendant will receive.

Many of my clients do not come to us until the sentencing stage of their cases. I do everything in my power to minimize their sentences. Many of my clients have obtained significant downward Guidelines departures and downward Booker variances, up to and including probation.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines after U.S. v. Booker

The United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”), which took effect on November 1, 1987, are the starting place for determining federal criminal sentences and it is therefore imperative that white collar attorneys and their clients have a thorough understanding of both the Guidelines and their commentary. The Guidelines can be extremely intricate and complex. I  have been practicing under the Guidelines for almost my  entire professional careers and have extensive knowledge of Guidelines case law and commentary.  However, I was practicing before the Federal Sentencing Guidelines took effect.

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in United States v. Booker brought potentially sweeping changes to the law governing federal sentencing practice, by making the Guidelines advisory rather than mandatory. Now federal judges can consider a number of personal factors about the defendant’s background and the circumstances of his or her case, that these judges were not allowed to consider when the Guidelines were mandatory.

This development made Robert R. Robles=s extensive knowledge of social history and mitigation investigations, developed in the capital arena, an invaluable resource in the realm of non‑capital federal sentencing. Mr. Robles, who has handled multiple sentencing hearings, expanded his federal criminal appellate, habeas and sentencing practice to focus on statutory post‑Booker mitigating factors in federal sentencing hearings, sentencing memoranda and objections to pre-sentence reports.

Initially, Booker’s effect was limited, as most federal appellate courts erected strong presumptions against sentences that fell below the advisory Guidelines range. That changed with two United States Supreme Court decisions from 2007, Gall v. United States and Kimbrough v. United States, in which the Supreme Court made it clear that sentences outside of the defendant’s normal Guidelines range are not presumptively unreasonable and that sentencing courts are free to disagree with Guidelines Policy Statements.

Although the Guidelines are no longer mandatory, they are still very important. Why? Because United States v. Booker requires federal courts to start the sentencing process by calculating the appropriate Guidelines range. Only then is a sentencing court allowed, but not required, to grant a downward departure, under the Guidelines, or a Booker downward variance, based on non‑Guidelines factors set out in federal statutes.

The overwhelming majority of these judges still impose sentences within the suggested Guidelines range. Old habits die hard. The Guidelines have been around for 24 years and the Guidelines’ framework for imposing sentences is the framework within which almost all federal judges have operated during their entire careers on the bench.

“A sentencing memo is our chance to tell the court about our client as a person.” Attorney Robert R. Robles.

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