As one of the leading attorneys in Illinois for federal cases, Chicago criminal defense lawyer Steven R. Hunter can advise you on your case. Call us now at (312) 466-9466.
Under Federal sentencing law, you do not always have to be convicted of a crime in order to be sentenced for it.
Attorney Steven R. Hunter has noticed a developing trend in federal court. Prosecutors are seeking to dramatically increase sentences of gang members under the theory that they have committed "relevant conduct" in the form of unsolved crimes such as Murder and Attempted Murder.
Recently, a number of high ranking Latin Kings were sentenced in the case of United v. Zambrano. Invoking the federal sentencing guidelines for relevant conduct, the prosecutors sought to enhance the sentence of some of the defendants for shootings for which the defendants were never charged and for which the police had little or no evidence.
The prosecution's evidence in federal court usually consisted of the hearsay statements of other gang members. In several cases, the prosecutors introduced statements from gang members who said that they had heard that the defendant ordered a shooting. No victim was named, and no date or time of the crimes were given.
As outrageous as this sounds, federal judges have sometimes found such evidence to be sufficient to prove "relevant conduct" under the United States Sentencing Guidelines and they have increased sentences accordingly.
That's right. Because of federal relevant conduct sentencing guidelines, prison sentence can be based not just on the crime for which a person was convicted, but on other alleged crimes, in which the defendant was acquitted or never charged, or even if the criminal charges were dismissed.
Without a good federal case criminal defense attorney on hand to avoid this ugly scenario, a convicted criminal can receive a lengthy, extended prison sentence for uncharged, dismissed and acquitted crimes.
Strategies such as attacking the truthfulness of the informant, the lack of relationship between the charged crime and the alleged "relevant conduct," and an objection on the basis of a denial of Due Process are all possible defenses to such sentencing enhancements.
If you or a loved one are facing federal charges, you need a tough, experienced criminal defense attorney to fight at sentencing as well as trial.