The Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide a uniform set of rules that ostensibly apply to individuals and organizations convicted of serious federal crimes. In general, the severity of the penalty recommended by the guidelines is determined by three factors: the offense level, the defendant’s criminal history, and the sentencing zone. Under the system, there are 43 offense levels, which related to the seriousness of the crime. For most white-collar crimes, the offense level is based purely on the alleged financial loss to the alleged victim. A defendant’s culpability is not taken into account when determining the offense level. A defendant’s criminal record also factors into sentencing recommendations; each defendant will be placed in one of six categories, based on a complicated point system that counts prior sentences. Those who have been convicted previously, especially of similar crimes, will be treated less leniently than first-time offenders. Finally, a sentence under the guidelines will be impacted by which of the four possible zones under which it is classified. Zone A carries the lightest penalty of 0-6 months in prison, and the zones increase in severity until Zone D, which carries the harshest penalties, starting with one year and ranging to life in prison. Different equities may move a crime up or down a zone. In order to get an idea of how a crime that you have been accused of may be treated under the federal sentencing guidelines, consult with an experienced Chicago-area defense attorney.
Defense attorneys nationwide have called for reform to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for white collar crime. They argue that the guidelines are unjust, because they don’t take into account critical factors, such as a defendant’s intent, character, or culpability, or any mitigating circumstances. Penalties for white collar crime are assessed on the basis of one central factor: the monetary loss to the alleged victim. Prior conduct and specific offense characteristics can shift the sentence up or down. This is meant to be an objective and efficient way to mete out punishment, but instead it often results in injustice.
If you are facing charges for a white collar crime, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands the federal sentencing guidelines and their impact, and who is dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for you and your case. Contact Chicago defense attorneys Goldman & Associates for a consultation today.