U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently issued a directive to all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to charge defendants with the most serious provable offenses that carry the most substantial sentences, including mandatory-minimum sentences. This directive is a shift back to prior years where the “war on drugs” and other initiatives were designed to reduce crime and incarcerate – warehouse for extended periods - defendants for the longest possible terms.
The United States Sentencing Guidelines provides federal judges with a set of guidelinesto calculate an appropriate and "reasonable" sentence in criminal cases. These guidelines are intended to encourage fair and consistent sentencing proportionate to the magnitude of the crime committed. In most cases, sentencing guidelines suggest a range of months to years of prison time, in addition to a period of supervised release. Other sentences may call for a period opf probation, or a number of hours of community service. However, when the defendant in a criminal action is a corporation or similar organization, the recommended sentences must change. It’s impossible to put a corporation in jail (though individual employees or members may be co-defendants and may face prison time for their own charges).
The stages of a criminal case as it proceeds through the legal system can be confusing for individuals who find themselves on the wrong end of legal charges for the first time. Though popular media has no shortage of stories set within the criminal justice system, these fictional depictions often leave out important details. When a substantial portion of your personal and professional future hangs in the balance, it's critical to have a complete and accurate understanding of the steps through which your criminal case will proceed.