What Are Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

Defendants who are convicted of federal crimes are subject to federal sentencing guidelines. Under the federal sentencing guidelines, judges are bound by certain parameters when sentencing a defendant. The federal sentencing guidelines take into account the seriousness of the offense and the defendant’s criminal history.

The sentencing guidelines provide 43 levels of offense seriousness, with each type of crime assigned a base offense level. The more serious the crime, the higher the base offense level. In addition to the base offense levels, each crime has a number of specific offense characteristics that can increase or decrease the base offense level. For instance, robbery carries a base level of 20, but if it involves a firearm, the offense level is increased by 5 and if a gun was fired in the robbery, the offense level is increased by 7.

Additionally, the offense level of a crime can be adjusted based on various factors, such as the defendant’s role in the crime and whether there was an obstruction of justice. For instance, if the defendant was minimally involved in the crime, the offense level may be decreased by 4 levels, but if the offender caused an obstruction of justice, the offense level is increased by 2 levels.

Federal sentencing guidelines also assign each defendant to one of six criminal history categories based on his or her previous criminal record.

The final offense level is determined by combining the adjusted offense level with the criminal history category to determine the sentencing range. The court may only “depart” from the sentencing range if an atypical aggravating or mitigating circumstance exists. If a judge departs from the prescribed sentencing range, he or she must indicate in writing the reason for the departure.

Contact a Minnesota Criminal Defense Lawyer

Because individuals facing federal charges are often subjected to aggressive prosecution tactics, it is important to consult with a criminal defense lawyer who understands what is at stake with federal charges, understands the inner workings of federal court proceedings, and will vigorously defend you against the charges or seek an adjustment to the offense level under the federal sentencing guidelines.

The Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers at Keller Criminal Defense Attorneys have years of experience handling a wide range of federal criminal cases. We defend clients facing federal criminal charges, including:

  • Internet pornography
  • Child pornography
  • Drug trafficking and other drug charges
  • Tax fraud
  • Mortgage fraud
  • Internet fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Identity theft
  • Securities and healthcare fraud
  • Counterfeiting, forgery and currency violations
  • Bribery, extortion and blackmail
  • Credit card fraud

We maintain constant communication, via phone and email, and treat all of our clients with the utmost respect and dignity. Moreover, we are available to our clients any time, day or night, to handle any pressing legal concerns.

Contact our office at (952) 913-1421 to schedule a free consultation with one of our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers.

Additional Articles on Federal Sentencing Guidelines:

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Any mistake during the early stages of your interaction with the legal system can result in serious, lifelong consequences. Immediate access to a 24-hour lawyer for criminal defense in Minneapolis, MN, can help calm the situation and improve the likelihood of a desirable outcome.
The criminal defense process in Minnesota constitutes several steps, starting with investigations and culminating with appeals. This process can be long and exhausting. An arrest alone can leave you scared, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions. Making logical decisions in this state can be difficult, especially if it is your first time interacting with the criminal justice system.