Sentencing

Sentence Reduction: Adopting the Letter, Not the Spirit of the Law

Sentence Reduction

If a criminal defendant is at the point of already being convicted and sentenced to prison time for a federal offense, then a sentence reduction is a positive development. But what happens if the district court disagrees with an appellate court order for a sentence reduction based on the unreasonableness of the original sentence? The…

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Supreme Court Narrows Federal Criminal Restitution

Criminal Restitution

According to the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act (MVRA), defendants convicted of crimes in federal court are required to pay their victims criminal restitution for the losses that they suffered. The case of Lagos v. United States involved an issue of interpretation over the act’s language regarding what types of losses would be eligible for restitution.…

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Second Circuit Affirms $10 Million Fine for Tax Evasion

Fine For Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is a serious crime that can result in prison time and hefty fines. Defendants convicted of tax-related crimes typically receive a downward variance from the applicable sentencing range according to the Sentencing Guidelines. However, the opposite proved true for a wealthy defendant involved in a high-profile tax case in New York. The Second…

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Challenging Federal Criminal Restitution Orders for Tax-Related Crimes

Federal Criminal Restitution, amount of a restitution order

Convictions for crimes involving fraud, embezzlement or theft typically result in the defendants having to pay some amount of money in federal criminal restitution upon sentencing. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed the imposition of a federal criminal restitution order in United States v. Johnson over the objections of a defendant who argued…

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Sentencing for Failure to Comply with Sex Offender Registration Requirements

Sex Offender Registration

The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal district court’s sentencing enhancement for a defendant who served time in prison for coercion and enticement of a minor and failed to update his personal information as a registered sex offender during his term of supervised release. This article details those sex offender registration requirements and…

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Judge Interferes with Plea Negotiations

Plea Negotiations, Plea Deal

Federal criminal defendants are entitled to enter into plea agreement negotiations with prosecutors. It is a long-standing rule that federal district court judges are not to take any part in the plea negotiations between the defendant and the prosecution. In United States v. Iazzetta, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a defendant’s restitution order because…

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Defining Burglary Under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA)

Armed Career Criminal Act, ACCA

The Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) applies a specific set of sentencing provisions to convicted felons who use a firearm in the commission of a crime with a prior record of violent offenses. In United States v. Stitt, the Supreme Court recently addressed the question of what exactly constitutes a burglary for purposes of determining…

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What Is the Possible Sentencing for Conspiracy?

Sentencing For Conspiracy

We hear the term conspiracy all the time. Rarely is there a crime drama where a conspiracy charge isn’t filed or threatened; or where there is sentencing for conspiracy. In fact, recently the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit alleging that the Trump presidential campaign, Russia, Wikileaks, and Trump’s son and son-in-law engaged in a…

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Pennsylvania’s Sentencing Guidelines: A Review and History

Pennsylvania's Sentencing Guidelines

“These mandatory minimum sentences are perhaps a good example of the law of unintended consequences . . . “ – U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist The Objective of Mandatory Minimums – A Double-Edged Sword While it is unclear whether former Chief Justice Rehnquist was referring to all mandatory minimum sentences as a policy…

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Proposed Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines Published

Proposed Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines

On December 13, 2018, the United States Sentencing Commission published a “reader friendly” version of the proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines. The public comment period for the proposed amendments will run through February 19, 2019. The reply period will officially close on March 15, 2019. The proposed amendments include the following major categories…

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