Following a guilty plea or a conviction at trial, sentencing is a critical part of criminal litigation where effective lawyering can make a significant difference in the ultimate result. At Rankin & Sultan, we endeavor to marshal all available materials to present each client in the most sympathetic light possible, both to the prosecutor and to the sentencing judge. These include expert reports, letters of support from our clients’ relatives and friends, medical records, and biographical documents. On the basis of these materials, we write and file sentencing memoranda which emphasize mitigating circumstances warranting lower sentences. At sentencing hearings, we zealously argue for the best possible outcome.
In federal court, the sentencing phase is significantly impacted by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. The guidelines were created by the Sentencing Commission in an effort to rationalize and unify sentencing across the country. The guidelines provide a complex framework to determine sentences based on two main factors – the conduct associated with the offense and the defendant’s criminal history. The guidelines were binding until the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in United States v. Booker, which made them advisory. Although the guidelines are now non-binding, they are still heavily relied upon by sentencing judges, who are required to calculate the “guideline range” and use the guidelines as “the starting point and the initial benchmark” for sentencing. Recent statistics published by the Sentencing Commission indicate that the majority of sentences imposed in the First Circuit are within the guideline range. It is crucial, therefore, to master the sentencing guidelines. Our team has decades of experience in federal sentencing, and knows how to use the guidelines as part of our advocacy to obtain the best possible result for our clients. In many cases, we have succeeded in convincing federal judges to sentence our clients significantly below the applicable guideline range.