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Federal Sentencing Issues

Accomplished Federal Sentencing Lawyer

For effective representation in federal sentencing, individuals and fellow criminal defense lawyers throughout the country have relied on the services of federal sentencing attorney Solomon L. Wisenberg.

Impressive Sentencing Results

Mr. Wisenberg takes a comprehensive approach to the federal sentencing process. He typically spends extensive time with clients and their families to prepare a detailed sentencing memorandum, telling the client's story and highlighting the factors that a judge must consider in imposing a 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 History of Successful Results

  • A North Carolina businessman was found guilty as part of an alleged securities fraud scheme. Mr. Wisenberg was hired after trial to represent the client during sentencing. The client's recommended sentencing guidelines range was 108-135 months in prison — roughly nine to 11 years. Mr. 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 in losses. Mr. Wisenberg was hired after the indictment was returned. He 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. Mr. Wisenberg was 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. Mr. Wisenberg and his 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 Mr. Wisenberg 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. Mr. Wisenberg argued for a Booker downward variance, which the court granted. The client served six 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 criminal defense 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 Mr. Wisenberg's clients do not come to him until the sentencing stage of their cases. He does everything in his power to minimize their sentences. Many of his 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, 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.

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 the guidelines' policy statements.

Courts Still Place a Heavy Emphasis on Guidelines

Although the guidelines are no longer mandatory, they are still very important. 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 more than 25 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.

Contact a Federal Sentencing Hearing Lawyer

If you are facing a federal sentencing hearing and need experienced legal counsel, feel free to contact white collar defense attorney Solomon L. Wisenberg online. He leads the white collar criminal defense team in the Washington, D.C., offices of Nelson Mullins LLP.

You may also call Solomon L. Wisenberg at 202-545-2922 during normal business hours, or at 202-257-7846 if an urgent matter arises during the evening or weekend.

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