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Defenders Of The Accused
Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel

Is material federal sentencing reform in the cards anytime soon?

| Oct 24, 2018 | Federal Criminal Defense |

We don’t mince words on our St. Louis criminal defense website at Frank, Juengel & Radefeld when we cite some notable differences that exist between the state and federal criminal realms.

In a nutshell, those distinctions are both many and material. Here are just a few ways in which criminal defense in the federal sphere typically differs sharply from what plays out in state courts:

  • Federal prosecutors often have more time to devote to matters involving defendants than do their state counterparts, which we note can give can them more time “to develop strategies to put you behind bars”
  • Federal authorities have larger budgets that buttress their probes and investigatory efforts
  • Federal law is often more detailed and complex than are state legal rules and processes
  • Sentencing outcomes in federal cases are often more severe than state-court results

All those factors frequently feature with federal charges, especially the last bullet point, which can have special utility in select drug-crime matters. A recent national media piece underscores that, noting specifically the legions of harsh outcomes that have befallen nonviolent drug offenders via mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.

Readers who follow criminal law stories relevant to policy and fair play know well the spotlight that is presently upon growing bipartisanship endorsing strong reforms in the criminal law realm. Reams of empirical evidence confirm the strong tailwinds that now buoy demands for significant change in drug-linked federal sentencing dictates. The aforementioned article points tellingly to President Trump, noting the chief executive’s recently expressed sentiments in favor of sentencing adjustments in select cases.

How soon and to what extent might those adjustments be realized? Candidly, it is difficult to say.

What does seem reasonably sure, though, is the shored-up national consensus that now exists to support meaningful reform. The above media piece stresses that it might lead Trump to a firm realization “that the federal system throws away too many people for decades, even life.”