"Mitigating Factors" are the pieces of information about you or the nature of your offense, that when considered by the Court may result in a sentence less severe than the sentencing guidelines. There are currently more than 200 mitigating factors that have been recognized for sentencing purposes in federal courts. The number of factors continues to grow. Some factors considered in issuing a below-guidelines sentence have included a defendant's age, prior criminal history, role as a good parent, disadvantaged background, drug, alcohol, and gambling addiction, life of public service, rendering of aid to a victim. good deeds, military service, need for medical treatment, and level of cooperation with the government. For a convicted person, employing qualified experts and effective attorneys to communicate mitigating factors to the court can mean the difference between a sentence that equals despair, and one that provides hope.
More than 95% of all federal criminal cases end in conviction. Sentencing is often the most critical phase for the defendant. Prior to 2005, federal judges were bound by mandatory sentencing guidelines that severely limited their ability to deviate from the guidelines based on factors and circumstances specific to the defendant. This all changed in 2005 with U.S. v Booker, in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the sentencing guidelines are advisory only, not mandatory.
For purposes of sentencing, federal judges must "impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary..." In addition to taking into account sentencing factors such as affording adequate deterrence, providing restitution to victims, and other policy concerns, federal judges must consider the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant. There is no limitation "on the information concerning the background, character, and conduct of a person convicted of an offense which a court may receive and consider for the purpose of imposing an appropriate sentence." Therefore, defendants who present compelling information to the court that may mitigate -or make less severe- the sentence handed down are greatly advantaged over those who do not.
Thorough preparation for sentencing is necessary if you want to increase your chances of receiving a "reasonable" sentence. Please consider these facts;
Ninety-three percent of all federal cases result in a guilty plea, Seventy five percent of all Criminal Defendants who proceed to trial are convicted, Ninety-seven percent of criminal defendants, eighty-two percent of federal criminal defendants who are sentenced receive a prison term.
With those odds, shouldn’t you have a sentencing specialist on your team?