The general goal of the criminal justice system is to punish people who violate the law. In all cases, this includes requiring a guilty person to pay a fine, spend time in prison, or both.
However, the federal criminal statutes will never specifically state the length of time that a person may spend in prison or the dollar amount that they must pay. Instead, federal judges rely upon a sentencing recommendation table that takes a defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the offense into account. Using this table, it is possible to estimate the potential penalties for a criminal conviction.
A knowledgeable federal criminal attorney could provide more information about South Carolina federal sentencing. This information could assist you to understand the potential consequence of a charge and in deciding whether to consider a plea deal.
Every federal criminal statute will contain information concerning the severity of the offense, which is how they are labeled either misdemeanors or felonies. A misdemeanor is any offense where the maximum penalties are up to one year in jail. Maximum sentences for felonies can include life imprisonment or even the death penalty.
Beyond these basic concepts, the judges in federal criminal cases have wide discretion when deciding the extent of a defendant’s punishment. According to 18 United States Code § 3553, judges should issue a sentence with the goals of preventing future crime, protecting the public from the defendant, and reflecting the seriousness of the offense.
To aid in this decision, judges use a sentencing guideline manual. This separates offenses into 43 severity levels and cross-references these offenses with a person’s criminal record. A lawyer who is well-versed on federal sentencing in South Carolina could assess the nature of the offense and a person’s history to make predictions about the possible criminal sentences a defendant may face.
Enduring an arrest due to an alleged federal offense can be a frightening experience. However, individuals must be able to understand what their arrest means and what the possible consequences of a conviction may be.
This is especially true when considering the potential sentence after a conviction for a federal offense. Even a misdemeanor accusation can result in a judge imposing a jail sentence if a person has a prior criminal history. In these cases, it may be best to dispute the charges at trial. However, other situations may justify asking for a reduced severity of charge from a prosecutor in exchange for a guilty plea. Here, a suggested sentencing recommendation can limit the length of a prison sentence that a judge will be able to impose. Working with an attorney could help people to better understand South Carolina federal sentencing and aid in the formation of a strategy for the future.
The federal criminal laws prohibit a wide range of activities that range from drug offenses, to fraud, to sex crimes. Whether these offenses are misdemeanors or felonies, the judges overseeing the cases have broad discretion to impose sentences based upon their own decisions. However, federal South Carolina federal sentencing guidelines do exist that allow all parties to estimate the potential penalties for a conviction.
An attorney could help you to better understand the possible consequences of a conviction in federal court. This can both help you to brace for a potential penalty as well as to decide whether to seek a plea deal or request a full trial. Reach out to an attorney today to learn more.