Federal Guideline Departures and Reasonable Sentencing

Federal convictions are serious and the penalties imposed are life-altering. In federal cases in the United States, sentencing is determined by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. These guidelines impose long, harsh sentences on people convicted of federal crimes. But it is possible for federal judges to depart from the guidelines and give less severe sentences when circumstances warrant.

More Than 20 Years of Legal Knowledge On Your Side

Our founding lawyer, Marcia G. Shein, is a nationally recognized attorneyMarcia Shein in matters of federal guideline departures and appeals whose articles and personal interviews have been published in state and national journals. She has provided testimony before the United States Sentencing Commission and has spoken before state and national bar conventions, civic groups and on television. Ms. Shein is the author of The Sentencing Defense Manual, which served as a federal criminal defense attorney’s guide to effective sentencing advocacy and sentencing resources. It was awarded the Best Legal and Accounting Text for 1988 by the American Association of Publishers.

Judges’ decisions to give non-guideline sentences must be based on specific reasons or “mitigating circumstances” like conduct related to the crime, criminal history and other circumstances. When circumstances call for it, judges can be convinced to tailor their sentences to your situation — to make your sentence reasonable.

We urge judges to make the right decision about the federal sentencing guidelines by submitting memorandums of law on PSR (pre-sentence report) guideline disputes and alternative interpretations of applicable sentencing guidelines. This information can help persuade the court to provide you with the most lenient sentence applicable. It will also encourage the court to exercise discretion to impose sentencing alternatives where applicable.