A great criminal defense attorney can obtain extraordinary results.
Detroit, MI, January 7, 2012 – Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Loren Dickstein successfully argues to keep a client from serving time in the Federal Prison system.
When Prison is Not the Answer, The Defense Lawyer Must Be Persuasive
L.C. pleaded guilty to the Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute and Distribute 100 Kilograms or More of Marijuana. These crimes are Class B felony charges that carry five (5) years to 40 years imprisonment. The key to avoiding federal prison is thorough preparation, creative and credible arguments, and fearlessly zealous representation.
Mr. Dickstein negotiated a plea with the United States Attorney’s office under the Rule 11 Plea Agreement. Rule 11 Agreement limits the maximum custodial sentence not to exceed the top of the sentencing guideline range. In this case, the guideline range was 37 to 46 months. Mr. Dickstein prepared a Sentencing Memorandum for the court, citing relevant law and reasons why the court should deviate from the sentencing guidelines and not order Mr. C to serve time in prison.
Judge Cook, Jr. of the United States District Court, Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division, ordered Mr. C to 1 day in jail with time served and three (3) years supervised release.
What is a departure below sentencing guidelines?
A departure is a sentence imposed outside a set range based on the US Sentencing Commission’s sentencing guidelines and regulations. The sentencing guidelines are determined based on the facts of the offense, any damage, loss, or injuries, and the defendant’s criminal history. A departure is appropriate when a guideline variable has an undue impact. For example, suppose a defendant had a previous conviction related to driving on a suspended license, and the judge ordered 90 days in jail. That conviction could spike a federal defendant’s sentencing guidelines by 10 years or more. A skilled federal defense lawyer could make a compelling argument that although the previous misdemeanor conviction and sentence technically results in higher guidelines, such a result is unjust, and the score should be reduced.
What is a variance below sentencing guidelines?
A sentence above or below the appropriate guideline range based on statutory sentencing factors (18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)) is known as a variation. Variances may be allowed for reasons not included in the Guidelines or even for grounds that the Guidelines state the judge is not permitted to consider. For example, facts that might justify a downward variance from the guidelines might include:
- youth and immaturity,
- advanced age and poor health,
- family commitments and hardships,
- childhood abuse and neglect,
- lack of prior record or incarceration,
- a life of community service, and more.
How do criminal defense lawyers persuade judges to sentence leniently?
Criminal defense lawyers, such as those with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C., employ various strategies to persuade judges to sentence their clients leniently to avoid federal prison. These attorneys present mitigating factors that paint their clients in a more favorable light, emphasizing their potential for rehabilitation rather than focusing solely on punishment. They might highlight their client’s lack of a prior criminal record or emphasize any circumstances during the offense that might have influenced their behavior, such as undue stress or provocation.
Lawyers often humanize their clients by presenting evidence of good character, testimonials from friends, family, or colleagues, or by showing their client’s positive contributions to society. Additionally, they might argue that incarceration would be particularly hard on the defendant due to health reasons, family obligations, or other personal hardships. If applicable, our firm’s attorneys will highlight our client’s genuine remorse, efforts towards restitution, or active steps taken towards rehabilitation, such as undergoing therapy or counseling. In some instances, alternatives to incarceration, like community service, probation, or diversion programs, might be proposed as more constructive and beneficial solutions for all parties involved. By combining these elements, our team will convince a sentencing judge that a more lenient sentence aligns with justice, fairness, and our client’s potential for future positive societal contributions.
Is it possible to avoid federal prison?
Yes, it is possible for a defendant who is convicted in federal court to avoid prison. The outcome depends on various factors, including the nature and severity of the offense, the defendant’s criminal history, the circumstances surrounding the crime, and other mitigating or aggravating factors. Here are some ways LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has helped clients avoid prison after a federal conviction:
- Probation: Some defendants can be sentenced to probation instead of prison. This is more likely for first-time offenders and for crimes that are non-violent or less severe. Probation involves a set of conditions that the defendant must follow, including regular check-ins with a probation officer, mandatory counseling, drug testing, community service, and more. Some convictions are ineligible for probation, and other measures must be taken to help a client avoid federal prison.
- Fines and Restitution: In some cases, especially financial crimes, a defendant might be ordered to pay fines or restitution to victims instead of serving prison time. Payment of fines and restitution doesn’t guarantee a judge will agree to a noncustodial sentence; however, fully paid restitution can go a long way!
- Alternative Sentencing: Some judges will consider alternative sentencing programs that allow qualifying defendants to participate in community service, counseling, rehabilitation programs, or other activities instead of serving time in prison. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. explores every alternative and helps their client take mitigating steps, ensuring the best chance of avoiding a federal prison sentence.
- Diversion Programs: These programs are designed to divert qualifying defendants away from the traditional criminal justice system and into community-based alternatives. Successful completion often results in the dismissal of charges or reduced penalties.
- Plea Agreements: Sometimes, in exchange for an acceptance of responsibility, the United States Attorney’s Office might agree to a diversionary sentence that does not include prison time and avoids a conviction. This is especially common when the prosecution’s case might have weaknesses or the defendant doesn’t have a significant record. A skilled, influential, and tenacious lawyer must persuade the government to agree to pretrial diversion as an alternative to prison.
- Downward Departure or Variance: The federal sentencing guidelines provide judges with a recommended range of sentences for specific offenses. However, judges can depart from these guidelines under certain circumstances. If mitigating factors are present, a defense attorney might argue for a “downward departure” or variance from the sentencing guidelines, resulting in a lower sentence, no prison time, home confinement, or time in a halfway house or drug treatment program.
- Cooperation with Authorities: Defendants who cooperate with law enforcement or federal authorities, especially in cases involving criminal networks or operations, might receive reduced sentences in recognition of their assistance. The United States Attorney’s Office might be convinced to recommend a noncustodial sentence for a defendant who provides substantial assistance to the government.
- Post-Conviction Relief: Even after a conviction, defendants have certain rights to appeal their conviction or sentence. If an appeal is successful, the sentence can be modified or the conviction overturned.
Avoid Federal Prison with Top-Notch Legal Representation
If you are subject to a federal law enforcement investigation or face charges, it would be best to be represented by a law firm with the influence, experience, and track record to ensure the best possible outcome. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. has an unparalleled track record of successfully representing thousands of clients in state and federal courts throughout Michigan. We use a unique team approach that often achieves outcomes unobtainable by most solo practitioners. Call us for a free consultation and confidential case evaluation when there is no room for errors or false promises.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.