Accomplished Federal Sentencing Lawyers
For effective representation in federal sentencing, individuals and fellow criminal defense lawyers throughout the country have relied on the services of white collar attorneys Solomon L. Wisenberg and Adrienne Urrutia Wisenberg.
Impressive Sentencing Results
Mr. and Mrs. Wisenberg take a comprehensive approach to the federal sentencing process. They typically spend extensive time with clients and their families and prepare a detailed sentencing memorandum, telling the client's story and highlighting the factors that a judge must consider in imposing sentence. Called 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 reoffend.
"A sentencing memo is our chance to tell the court about our client as a person." — Attorney Adrienne Wisenberg
- A North Carolina businessman was found guilty as part of an alleged securities fraud scheme. The Wisenbergs were hired after trial 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. and Mrs. Wisenberg presented comprehensive written and oral materials to the U.S. District Court and argued for a significant downward variance under United States v. Booker. The Court sentenced the client to probation.
- A Pennsylvania businessman was charged with bank fraud in a multi-count Indictment alleging over $500,000.00 in losses. The Wisenbergs were hired after the Indictment was returned. They negotiated a plea agreement and the client received felony probation following a hotly contested sentencing hearing.
- A Delaware federal grand jury indicted an elected official on multiple Hobbs Act felony counts, which could have resulted in several years of federal prison time. The Government offered a misdemeanor tax plea 10 days before trial. The client pled guilty to the tax misdemeanor and the government dismissed all felony charges. The client was sentenced to three years probation.
- A San Antonio commercial property owner was found guilty as part of an alleged insurance fraud scheme. The Wisenbergs were hired after trial to represent him at sentencing. The recommended Guideline range for the client's offense was 46 to 57 months. The government asked for an upward departure from that Guidelines range to 71 months. The Wisenbergs and their co-counsel argued for a downward variance. After an all day hearing, the court sentenced the client to 15 months.
- A Florida businesswoman pled guilty to bid-rigging on a government contract. She hired the Wisenbergs to represent her at sentencing. The government recommended that the client receive a downward departure from her recommended Sentencing Guidelines range, but wanted her to serve 18 to 24 months. The Wisenbergs argued for a Booker downward variance, which the court granted. The client served 6 months.
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 white collar 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 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.
Several of our clients do not come to us until the sentencing stage of their cases. We do everything in our power to minimize their sentences. Many of our 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. We have been practicing under the Guidelines for almost our entire professional careers and have extensive knowledge of Guidelines case law and commentary.
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 Adrienne Urrutia Wisenberg'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. Mrs. Wisenberg, who has handled hundreds of sentencing hearings, expanded her federal criminal appellate, habeas and sentencing practice to focus on statutory post-Booker mitigating factors in federal sentencing hearings, sentencing memoranda and objections to presentence 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.
If you are facing a federal sentencing hearing and need experienced legal counsel, please contact Solomon L. Wisenberg and Adrienne Urrutia Wisenberg. They lead the white collar criminal defense team in the Washington D.C. offices of Barnes & Thornburg LLP.