Federal Drug Crimes
With the advent of mandatory minimum sentences and the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines in the 1980's, very little could be done to help a loved one charged with a federal drug crime.
That changed when the United States Supreme Court in Gall and Booker made the Guidelines advisory as opposed to mandatory. A skilled defense attorney can now fight for a variance. A variance lets the U.S. District Court Judge sentence a Defendant to a non-Guideline reduced sentence based on certain criteria contained in 18 U.S.C. §3553.
I have become adept at convincing judges to grant variances and non-Guideline sentences through Sentencing Memorandum which explain why a client deserves a “break” and meets all of the 3553 criteria. Even before the Guidelines became advisory, I filed Sentencing Memorandum to fight for clients who I thought were being treated too harshly by the Guidelines.
The most common mistake defense attorneys make in defending someone charged with a federal drug crime is they assume their client is “guilty” and immediately begin negotiating a Plea Agreement without going through the evidence. That is a huge mistake. The Government needs to know that the defense attorney is going to fight for his client, and if necessary, is willing to go to trial in the case.
The key to successfully defending a federal drug case is finding a weakness in the Government’s evidence and hitting that weakness hard through pre-trial motions. Generally, because a weakness has been discovered, the Government will generally be more agreeable to a reasonable Plea Agreement. If not, a trial is easier to win because the groundwork has been laid for reasonable doubt.
Even if a Plea Agreement is reached, it is important to continue fighting through a Sentencing Memorandum so that the judge will impose as small of a sentence as possible.
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