Griffin Law Office: Explanation of the Federal Sentencing Process

At the Griffin Law Office, APC, our San Diego criminal defense attorney knows the United States Congress has established minimum and maximum punishments for many crimes, which the judge uses to craft a sentence. The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) has produced the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which recommend specific punishments for certain crimes while considering various factors.

With that information, the judge may consider various aggravating or mitigating factors, including whether the defendant has committed the same crime before, has expressed regret for the crime, and the nature of the crime itself, and review a pre-sentence report and statements from the victims, the defendant, and lawyers.

Next, the sentencing court must consider seven factors outlined in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 (SRA), which was created to inject transparency, consistency, and fairness into the sentencing process. Here, we discuss these factors and other resources that pertain to the federal sentencing process.

The Federal Sentencing Process in California

What Factors Are Outlined in the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984?

The SRA (18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)) sets forth seven factors that a sentencing court must consider in the sentencing process itself.

They include:

  • The nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant.
  • The need for the sentence imposed to reflect the four primary purposes of sentencing: retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation.
  • The kinds of sentences available, including whether probation is prohibited or a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment is required by statute.
  • The sentencing range established through application of sentencing guidelines and the types of sentences available under the guidelines.
  • Any relevant “policy statements” promulgated by the Commission.
  • The need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among defendants with similar records who have been found guilty of similar conduct.
  • The need to provide restitution to any victims of the offense.

In addition, sentencing procedures apply in all cases, including those in which guilty or nolo contendere pleas are entered with or without a plea agreement between the parties, and convictions are based on judicial findings or verdicts.

It sets forth the procedures for establishing the facts upon which the sentence will be based, including:

Have You Been Charged with a Federal Crime in California? The Griffin Law Office Can Help

If you have been arrested on federal charges in California, call 619-269-2131 to speak with our skilled San Diego County criminal defense attorney today. We can explain your legal rights and help you build a defense to pursue the best outcome for your case.

Additional Resources: Federal Sentencing: The Basics 


Contact Form Tab