Federal sentencing can be harsher than Florida state court sentencing, which is one reason why defendants are often eager to accept a plea deal or a plea agreement and avoid going to trial. In fact, the vast majority of federal criminal cases are resolved via a plea agreement wherein the accused agrees to plead guilty in exchange for certain terms and conditions being met.
In general, the federal prosecutor will almost always offer a plea agreement, but any federal plea agreement should be considered very carefully before being accepted. Federal plea agreements are one-sided agreements that generally benefit the government and should only be entered into if there is an actual benefit to the client. For example, if the government is reducing charges or dropping counts carrying minimum mandatory sentences, there may be a reason enter into a plea agreement. Many plea agreements, however, have no benefit to the client whatsoever. In fact, almost all federal plea agreements require you give up your right to appeal. This should not be taken lightly.
It is imperative to hire an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to negotiate the terms of a possible plea agreement and to advise if a guilty plea should be entered without a plea agreement. However, any discussion about whether to plead guilty in a federal criminal case must also deal with the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR).
The PSR is the first step in a formal federal sentencing process. PSRs are prepared by probation officers during the time between the conviction and the date set for sentencing. Judges rely heavily on these reports for federal sentencing since they don’t have time to investigate each case. PSRs contain information such as:
The circumstances surrounding the offense.
The client’s past history, family information, medical and mental health information. These issues may actually help reduce a sentence significantly.
Most importantly, the PSR contains a recommendation regarding the type and length of the sentence a client should receive. This recommendation is based on the officer’s calculation of the sentence using the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
Sentencing is done by a district court judge. That judge will rely heavily on the PSR in deciding the appropriate sentence. It is extremely important to understand this because the plea agreement normally has little to do with the actual sentence. This is in stark contrast to the normal process in state courts and can be daunting for clients and families to understand without proper explanation and guidance.
The PSR will normally contain recommendations that are inaccurate or improper. Jonathan Rose will object to those portions of the PSR and attempt to resolve them before the sentencing hearing in the client’s favor. However, if unable to resolve them, Jonathan Rose is very experienced in presenting these arguments to the court, both before and during the sentencing hearing. Every effort is made to ensure the client receives the best and fairest sentence possible.
The earlier an experienced federal criminal defense attorney gets involved, the better. It is imperative in many instances to make decisions quickly, and those need to be made with the advice of an experienced attorney such as Jonathan Rose.
If you have been charged with a federal crime, contact Orlando criminal defense attorney Jonathan Rose for advice and representation at 407-894-4555 or request a consultation online.