After a client decides to plead guilty and counsel negotiates the best possible plea agreement – negotiating what count of the Indictment to plead to or what statute for a plea to an Information; limiting the loss amount, negotiating the other Guidelines’ enhancements; and the like – the work is not complete until a comprehensive, persuasive sentencing submission is crafted.

A well-crafted sentencing submission allows the judge to see the client as an individual rather than a Guideline calculation. While the lengthy Presentence Report (PSR) completed by the federal Probation Officer lists details of the offense, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines’ calculations, the plea agreement terms, the defendant’s background – personal history, family, financial history, physical and mental health, drug or alcohol use or abuse – these reports are formulaic and are not designed from a defense perspective.

Experienced counsel weaves together how the client’s personal history and life experiences brought her to this moment; how those factors affected the client’s conduct or offer a high probability against recidivism; why the client became involved in the offense; the client’s limited involvement or role in the offense; the client’s unique family circumstances; the client’s good deeds in life as explained through letters from family, friends, community or religious organizations; the client’s special health issues that the Bureau of Prisons may not be able to treat or monitor effectively; and the adverse personal and business consequences of a custodial, or lengthy sentence would have.

The goal, of course, is to provide the sentencing judge with reasonable, credible reasons for varying from the suggested Guideline range the client faces pursuant to the negotiated plea agreement. Departure, usually based upon client’s cooperation with the government, or variances based upon a variety of personal factors, must be persuasively argued to the judge, both in the written submissions and orally at the sentencing hearing.

In a recent case in the Southern District of New York involving the hacking of the Port Authority computer system for taxi dispatch to JFK terminals, we were able to successfully argue for a sentence that was almost 70% lower that the Guidelines called for in the plea agreement (24 months rather than 60 months). We successfully argued three factors that reduced our client’s sentence. First, that our client was a minor participant, not as defined by the particular section of the Guidelines, but rather in the scheme itself given his limited knowledge, role and abilities. Second, the amount of loss was exaggerated because the Port Authority chose to replace its antiquated computer system that was never designed for security with an expensive upgrade. Third, our client’s background, family circumstances and good deeds should factor into a lesser sentence.

JFK Airport Taxi Line Hack Scam

Crafting a convincing sentencing submission requires a great deal of time, effort and skill. A coherent theme must be developed that is supported by the PSR, letters from friends and family, health records, expert reports if necessary, remorse, and reasons that support that the client is unlikely to recidivate.

Stahl Gasiorowski Criminal Defense Attorneys are known for their comprehensive, persuasive sentencing submissions that place their clients in the best possible position at sentencing. To contact us call 908.301.9001 for the NJ office and 212.755.3300 for the NYC office, or email Mr. Stahl at or Laura K. Gasiorowski at