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Downward Departure in Maryland Tax Fraud Cases

Sentencing guidelines for federal tax fraud can be very stringent, depending on the facts of the case, as well as the judge hearing the case. With so much at stake, it is important for individuals to work with legal advocates who can attempt to mitigate the severity of the sentences. If an individual wants to know more about downward departure in Maryland tax fraud cases and how downward departure could benefit them, they should speak with an experienced tax fraud lawyer today.

Difference Between Upward and Downward Departure

The initial sentencing guidelines in a tax fraud case are calculated based on the amount of loss.  An upward departure is an increase in those guidelines that can result for various reasons.

For example, if a defendant impeded the investigation, perhaps by destroying documents, that could warrant an upward departure, or an increase, to the guideline range.

A downward departure in Maryland tax fraud cases is a decrease in the guidelines.  If a defendant accepts a plea offer from the government, that may warrant a downward departure to the guideline range.

Mitigating Circumstances in Tax Fraud Cases

A mitigating circumstance in a tax fraud case is a fact or facts considered positive for the defendant and that can lead to a downward departure in Maryland tax fraud cases to the sentencing guidelines and a lighter sentence. A mitigating circumstance could be the defendant’s substantial cooperation with federal investigators.  If a defendant assists the government in its investigation of related, or other suspected criminal conduct, the court may find it warrants a downward departure to the sentencing guidelines.

A common reason for an upward departure in tax fraud cases is that the Court finds “sophisticated means” were used to effectuate the fraud.  Sophisticated means is a broad term and can include complicated corporate structures, shell companies, or a conspiracy amongst several individuals.  If the court finds these sophisticated means were employed by the defendant, that can warrant an upward departure to the sentencing guidelines.

How the Role of the Complainant in a Case Can Impact Departure Considerations

The role of the alleged victim in a federal tax fraud case is not a consideration because the only alleged victim is the US Treasury, the federal government, which played no role in the fraud and thus has no effect on a departure consideration. As for the effect of a person’s criminal history on a court’s sentencing consideration, that is addressed on the sentencing guidelines table. If a defendant has a criminal history, that will place them on a higher offense level on the chart, carrying a higher sentence. The seriousness of the criminal history will have an even greater impact on the overall sentencing guidelines.

What is a Minimally Sufficient Sentence?

In tax fraud cases, a minimally sufficient sentence is the shortest sentence that satisfies all the factors found in 18 USC 3553(a).  The factors include the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant, the need for the sentence to deter future criminal conduct, the need to reflect the seriousness of the offense, the need to protect the public from future crime, and the need to provide the defendant with correctional treatment in the most effective manner.

Un-Coerced Plea Bargains and Downward Departure

An un-coerced plea bargain is one in which the defendant voluntarily accepts responsibility. It applies to a downward departure in federal cases by generally resulting in a two-point reduction of offense level. If the plea bargain is accepted in a timely fashion, an extra point will be deducted from the offense level.  Each of these reductions in offense level directly corresponds to a reduction in the sentencing guidelines.

Benefit of a Maryland Tax Fraud Sentencing Attorney

A person facing criminal charges is looking at a potential prison time, in addition to potential supervised probation, significant fines, and other consequences.  An experienced tax fraud sentencing lawyer could use every resource to advocate for the minimum sentence.  The lawyer will know which categories for downward departure in Maryland tax fraud cases are applicable and will fashion arguments to advocate for the application of the downward departures while arguing against the application of any upward departures.