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When someone commits an offense, the judge will be responsible for issuing a sentence. The sentence is based on a variety of factors, but periodically, the sentence a person receives may not necessarily match up with the severity of the charges they are facing.

To prevent this from occurring, the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 was passed by Congress. This Act allowed a sentencing commission to publish Alabama federal sentencing guidelines Manual that specifies sentences for federal crimes. It uses a point system that takes the criminal history of the defendant, as well as the type of crime they are charged with into account. For more information, contact an experienced defense lawyer.

What Judges Have to Consider

Alabama Federal Sentencing Guidelines can be complex and carry an immense amount of weight in the courtroom. The guidelines are not necessarily mandatory, but federal judges must take them into consideration. Federal prosecutors also have the power to recommend sentences but judges may not have to abide by the guidelines or their recommendations.

For example, if a judge believes a sentencing guideline would carry too harsh of a sentence, they could reduce the sentence as long as they do not abuse their discretion. However, they may not lengthen a sentence unless certain mitigating factors are present. Generally, this means that any sentence that falls within the sentencing guidelines may be considered acceptable and may not be overturned by an appellate court unless it can be proven the ruling judge abused their power in some way.

State vs. Federal Criminal Sentences

Federal crimes are very serious, and unlike the state criminal system, the federal system does not offer parole. This means that individuals may be required to serve for a long period of time before they are released from prison since federal sentencing guidelines mandate that someone must serve at least certain portion of their sentence before they can be released early for good behavior. Moreover, these guidelines can become even more complicated when white-collar crimes such as tax evasion or mortgage fraud are involved rather than perhaps a drug charge. To avoid these long, iron-clad sentences, accused individuals may need to consult with a lawyer who understands Alabama federal sentencing guidelines.

Factors Involved in Sentencing

As mentioned above, the guidelines are used in a variety of federal cases. These guidelines may take a variety of factors into consideration. The length of a sentence a person receives may depend on the following factors:

  • The type of crime they are accused of committing
  • Their alleged role in the crime
  • Whether they accept responsibility
  • The number of counts or charges they are facing
  • Their prior criminal record

The judge may also seek to enhance a sentence if they believe the accused person knew the alleged injured person was particularly vulnerable or unable to defend themselves. Additional points are also added if the person allegedly attempted to obstruct justice in any way.

Contact an Attorney Who Understands Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The stakes are remarkably high, and a federal offense may result in decades in prison. Moreover, since the sentencing judge has some leniency, it is important to understand what factors may influence the sentence.

Simply put, Alabama federal sentencing guidelines can be difficult to understand, and if you are facing charges for a federal offense, it would be wise to speak with an attorney who understands the federal justice system. Contact an attorney in your area to learn more.