Many St. Louis residents believe in the general principle that everyone who is accused of a crime deserves a fair trial before a jury of his or her peers. This right is enshrined in the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. For better or worse, some defendants give up this right in order to secure a plea deal or settlement and avoid harsh penalties in the event of a conviction. This is often the case for those white-collar crimes. One reason for this is that the sentences for white-collar crimes can often be quite severe.
Federal sentences for white-collar crimes are calculated primarily based on the U.S. Department of Justice's Sentencing Guidelines. These are a set of guidelines that apply to federal courts, and give the judge a suggested guideline range to apply to each and every federal crime. The judge does not necessarily have to follow the range in each case, but often judges end up sentencing a person within the recommended range.
When people find themselves accused of federal white-collar crime charges, they may look at the sentencing guidelines and decide that trying to fight the charges isn't worth it and that they should just take the first deal the prosecution offers. In some cases, even a person who is being charged as a low-level member of a conspiracy may be looking at a potential sentence of 20 years. However, that may not always be a good idea.
Individuals facing these charges need to be aware not only of what the potential sentence may be in their case, but what can be done to combat the charges or reduce any possible sentence. Experienced criminal defense attorneys can help the accused to assess all their options and come up with the best strategy under the circumstances.
Source: National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, "White collar sentencing resources," accessed on May 22, 2015