The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Are Published by the United States Sentencing Commission
Video Transcribed: What are the federal sentencing guidelines and how are those impacting the federal criminal defendants in Oklahoma? My name’s Ted Hasse. I’m a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Oklahoma at Wirth Law Office and want to take a moment to talk to folks about the federal sentencing guidelines. The federal sentencing guidelines are published by the United States Sentencing Commission.
They’re a set of guidelines that are comprehensive for all kinds of criminal charges that can come up federally and take into consideration, not just the base offense, but potentially enhancing factors, facts that are relevant to the defendant, the defendant’s conduct, or the alleged victim, and what’s kind of transpired in the alleged course of criminal conduct.
These guidelines were previously, it was previously required by federal judges that they follow them. They’re no longer required to follow them. However, they are required to take them into consideration. And in practice, federal judges generally do follow the guidelines or provide good reasons for why they wouldn’t be following the guidelines.
The fact that they’re not required to follow the guidelines, that provides them more flexibility, and it makes it possible if a defendant is facing sentence before a federal judge, it makes it possible for us to seek a departure or a variance that brings it down below what the guidelines would normally bring or what they would advise based on the alleged offense.
Where it mainly the place where a criminal defendant is particularly focused on the sentencing guidelines and where it’s impacting their case. Perhaps the most are, first of all, there’s the manual of all of these guidelines and a calculation for offense level. And then secondly, there’s a consideration of what the alleged, what defendant’s past criminal history looks like. And then this gets broken down finally into one chart that provides guideline ranges.
These ranges of the number of months for which somebody would be incarcerated based on the offense level. That’s the calculation of the base, based on the offenses for which the person is found guilty.
The enhancements, everything, that’s added up into offense level. So that goes down the row side and then across the top. You have a different criminal history category and in the federal sentencing and under the guidelines, a criminal history can have a huge impact on how much time somebody actually ends up serving if they’re found guilty or plead guilty.
The way that this in practice ends up getting in front of a judge is in all circumstances after an individual, if an individual is found guilty by a jury or changes their plea to guilty either pursuant to a plea agreement or through what we call a blind plea, which is pleading guilty without some deal ahead of time with the federal prosecutors.
Then the U.S. Probation and Parole Office are tasked with producing a pre-sentencing report to be provided for the judge that in addition to a lot of other information that it provides, it does a calculation of what under the sentencing guidelines this would be the appropriate sentence.
And so no matter what happens on the front end, whether even in the case of a plea agreement, the judge is going to end up getting a report on what the sentencing guidelines would provide for if the judge were to do that sentencing.
One of the unique ways that criminal defense in Tulsa and Oklahoma are interacting with this system now is particularly with regard to criminal history. Now, with McGirt and with the fact that many criminal defendants who are finding themselves in the federal system had previously had criminal convictions that are no longer any good, those criminal convictions are going to be treated in a very different way with regards to their criminal history.
It’s important if you are facing criminal charges in the federal system, that you connect with the attorney as soon as possible, and certainly, they can advise you on how the U.S. sentencing guidelines are going to impact you and your case. Please feel free to give us a call if you need a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney, or If you any have questions, call (918) 932-2800.