After a client and his or her attorney enter a guilty plea, the case isn't over - a long sentencing process still awaits. The U.S. Federal Sentencing Guidelines offer a guideline sentence for defendants, which incorporates the severity of the crime as well as the defendant's criminal history. However, this guidelines range is advisory. In other words, a judge can order a sentence below this range, but it is up to the defense lawyer to craft strategic arguments to achieve this goal.
In this particular criminal case, the defendant pled guilty to charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Going into the sentencing hearing, this client's chances seemed bleak to an outsider. With an extensive criminal history, including a multitude of violent crimes, it was unlikely that a judge would order sentence below the guidelines range.
Fortunately, this client's attorney was criminal defense lawyer Steven R. Hunter, who has plentiful experience in formulating compelling sentencing arguments. Before the judge, Mr. Hunter offered convincing evidence that this defendant would not reoffend. For one, this client was older, and studies show that age decreases the likelihood of criminal activity. Mr. Hunter also argued that the client's recent diagnosis for mental disorders and resulting mental treatment would also decrease the chances of reoffending. Lastly, Mr. Hunter argued that the actual infraction in this case was not as severe or violent; the weapon was broken to the point of being unusable, and the defendant possessed it for only a split moment.
The judge found these arguments convincing and agreed to a sentence below the guidelines range. Thanks to criminal defense attorney Steven R. Hunter, this defendant will be sent home to his family nearly three years earlier than the prosecution recommended. (10 CR 596).