I recently won a significant victory for a federal criminal client in United States District Court for the District of Maryland in a re-sentencing under Booker. http://www.mdattorney.com/lawyer-attorney-1301200.html In the Booker case, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the federal sentencing guidelines that apply to all criminal cases prosecuted in federal courts were no longer mandatory. The Court in Booker held that federal judges should consider the sentencing guidelines in fashioning a sentence, but that the guidelines were just one of many factors to be weighed in sentencing. These factors are laid out in federal law at 18 U.S.C.§3553(a) & (b). They include the nature and circumstances of the person, the need to protect the public from further crimes by the defendant, as well as the nature and circumstances of the offense.
While the Court’s decision in Booker was not retroactive, the case does apply to cases that were on appeal at the time of the decision. In my recent case, the client had been convicted prior to Booker and sentenced to 174 months incarceration for being part of a multi-state drug conspiracy. The client’s trial defense attorney did not ask the federal appeals court to remand the case for a new sentencing in light of the Booker decision. I represented the client in a federal habeus suit in Maryland seeking that the client be re-sentenced.
In that case, the Chief Judge Legg agreed with our argument that the prior counsel’s failure to raise the Booker issue on appeal constituted ineffective assistance of counsel. He set the case in for a new sentencing hearing.
At the re-sentencing, the Assistant United States Attorney argued that the Court should re-impose the same 174 month sentence on the client. We convinced Judge Legg to reduce the client’s sentence by over four years, over the objection of the federal prosecutor. A large part of our case at re-sentencing concerned the strides that the client had made during the two year period after the original sentencing hearing. The client had successfully completed drug treatment, accounting, business, and other academic classes while in federal prison awaiting the re-sentencing. Chief Judge Legg ruled that the client’s exemplary behavior while in prison, coupled with the successful completion of class study at the facility was sufficient to grant a significant sentence reduction.
The victory in federal court meant that the client saved four years of his life. The lesson learned from this case is that the federal criminal defense attorney needs to be prepared to aggressively raise all legitimate bases for sentence reduction under the Booker case. While it may not seem like a big deal, small accomplishments like finishing a course in electronics or history while in federal prison can result in large reductions in a re-sentencing under Booker.
I have conducted hundreds of federal sentencing hearings in the District of Maryland and other federal districts and have been able to achieve very significant results for my clients. The federal criminal defense attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White http://www.mdattorney.com are experienced in federal cases and can get the best possible results for our clients in all types of federal criminal cases. There is not an issue that we cannot handle.