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Booker Case & Federal Sentencing

U.S. v Booker challenged the constitutionality of mandatory sentences. Call our experienced Chicago criminal lawyers to preserve your rights & your freedom.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago

When the federal sentencing guidelines were first implemented, they prescribed mandatory sentences for individuals convicted of federal crimes. In 2005, the Supreme Court heard arguments in United States v. Booker, which challenged the constitutionality of mandatory sentences. The case involved a defendant whose base level offense had been increased by a judge based on a preponderance of evidence that was not presented to the jury. Based on this evidence, the minimum sentence the defendant was eligible to receive was increased from 10 years in prison to 30. The defendant appealed based on a denial of his constitutional rights.

The Court ruled that based on the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to a trial by jury, a sentence could only be calculated based on the defendant’s own admissions or facts proven beyond a reasonable doubt as established by a jury. The ruling was based on a ruling made six months earlier in Blakely vs. Washington, where the court opted to impose the same requirement on a sentencing guidelines scheme that was being used in Washington state. The court’s finding in Blakely was based on the case of Apprendi v. New Jersey, where the court ruled that with the exception of prior convictions, any evidence or fact that would increase a defendant’s punishment beyond the statutory maximum must be presented to a jury and proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

How Booker Affects Federal Sentencing Strategies

Prior to the Booker case, individuals convicted of federal crimes could potentially face rigid sentences based on the mandatory nature of the federal sentencing guidelines. Following the court’s ruling in Booker, federal district judges now have the ability to impose a sentence that is within the framework of the sentencing guidelines while also taking into account certain relevant factors which may mitigate or aggravate the penalty. This means that rather than facing a blanket sentence for a criminal conviction, federal defendants may be eligible to receive sentences that are tailored to their individual situation. The court may consider any and all of the following factors when imposing sentence:

  • The nature and circumstances of the crime
  • The defendant’s criminal history
  • How well the sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime
  • Whether the sentence should include medical care, educational training, counseling or treatment
  • The range of sentences available
  • Whether restitution to the victim is necessary

After taking all of the relevant factors into consideration, the court is charged with issuing a sentence that is appropriate to the crime and to the defendant. For example, the court has the option of adjusting the defendant’s base level offense upward or downward, which directly corresponds to the type of punishment the individual is eligible to receive. The court may also depart from the sentencing guidelines in certain situations when an increase or reduction in the penalty is necessary.

Charged with a federal crime? Contact a criminal defense attorney in Chicago!

When you’ve been charged with a federal crime, hiring an experienced Federal Criminal Defense Attorney should be your top priority. Your attorney will evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether there are any mitigating factors which may support an adjustment of your base level offense or a downward departure within the sentencing guidelines if you’re convicted.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Schmiege offers aggressive and vigorous representation to defendants who’ve been charged with a federal crime in the Chicago area and/or throughout the United States. If you’re facing a prison term for your criminal acts, he will work diligently on your behalf to make a strong argument for adjustment or downward departure under the Booker guidelines.

Call (312) 906-7800 today to get the expert legal representation you need from a Chicago Criminal Lawyer to preserve your rights and your freedom.

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Michael Schmiege represented me on my Theft charge and I was found not guilty!

"Mr. Schmiege is well respected by the court because he is a very honest man. He was very kind and respectful to me. His fees were reasonable. His office is very easy to find, and his staff is very helpful."

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He understood that I made a mistake but it didn’t define who I was...

"I am so appreciative of the help and support that I received from Michael and his team members! They truly helped me figure out my case and I got outstanding results. If anyone can help you get great results, it’s Michael. I had an immigration issue as well and he worked with my immigration lawyer to help find the best solution. He understood that I made a mistake but it didn’t define who I was. I definitely don’t want to go through any of this again but I’m glad that I had the support to get through this."

M. Peterson
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Never over-promises, but definitely delivered more than we had hoped for.

"Michael Schmiege is an excellent attorney. He is honest, diligent and gets great results. If you find yourself in need of a lawyer, he is great at what he does. Never over-promises, but definitely delivered more than we had hoped for. His team will help you all the way. Answers all your questions promptly and clearly states what to expect. I highly recommend Michael and his team. They CAN and will help!"

C. Underwood
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