What Are The Penalties For Federal Crimes?
The sentence guidelines are guidelines that were instituted by the federal government. These guidelines as of today are not binding on judges. There was a time where the federal guidelines were binding on the judges, but a Supreme Court case called U.S. versus Booker decided that the guidelines were just advisory and that they were just guidelines and that judges did not have to go by these guidelines. Presently, the state of the federal sentencing guidelines are that judges are more and more often not going by the guidelines. They have the ability to sentence defendants based on their own discretion.Is It A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing If Judges Sentence Someone Based On Their Own Discretion?
It depends on who you speak to and it depends on whether you are a prosecutor or a defendant. Defense attorneys think that this is a great thing because they felt that the federal sentence guidelines were too structured. They think that it does not allow for individual circumstances to be put in sentencing. For example, it does not allow for the history of the defendant. You can have a defendant who, maybe, committed a crime because he is mentally ill or who came from a broken home. The guidelines do not address those circumstances. Your criminal history is just a level of offense, it is mathematical. It is a formula and it will come out with a recommended guideline.
As a result of U.S. vs Booker in 2005, which states that these guidelines were not mandatory on the judge, they are only what the guidelines suggest. You now have judges that will look at the whole circumstance of the crime, look at the individual's background and look at the conduct of the police and the prosecutors in the crime. Sometimes, you have a lot of misconduct, you have a lot of the police or the federal agents that have gone beyond the rules and that needs to be considered too. Therefore, as far as the defendant and a defense attorney is concerned, not having them as mandatory is a good thing. There are some that argue that this is causing lesser sentences in terms of crimes and some people are not happy.Do Most Federal Cases Tend To Plead Or Settle Before Going To Trial Or Do Most Cases End Up In Trial?
Most federal cases are pled. Most of the crimes result in plea bargains and that is mainly the reason. Also, the system is not designed to have every single criminal case go to trial, there are not enough judges, and they do not have enough jurors. It would be crazy to have all the cases going to trial, so as a result, most of them are pled.
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