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Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Habitual Offenders

In early February 2011, a Utah man was sentenced in federal court for possessing a handgun that was found to have been stolen from Nevada. The man was sentenced to 100 months in prison with a warning from the judge that a future felony conviction "will result in a more severe sentence."

The prosecution asked the judge to sentence the man to nearly 10 years in prison - the maximum allowed for a "habitual" or career criminal for committing this level of felony. The judge disagreed and sentenced the man to a fewer months in prison, but did remind the man that he was lucky to have not been classified as a career armed criminal - which would carry enhanced penalties.

Sentencing Guidelines

In an effort to provide uniform justice throughout the federal justice system, the sentences imposed for federal crimes are governed by the federal sentencing guidelines. The guidelines provide a maximum amount of time that a person convicted of a crime can spend in prison. However, the guidelines also provide a minimum amount of prison time that the person must be sentenced to.

While the guidelines provide uniformity for sentencing, they also limit the discretion of the judge. Occasionally, the sentencing guidelines dictate overly severe sentences for the circumstances.

The guidelines also provide for enhanced sentences for special circumstances, such as being classified as a career offender.

Career Offender

To be classified as a career criminal, a judge must find several factors including:

  1. The defendant must be at least 18 years old at the time the offense in question was committed;
  2. The current offense must be a felony classified as a violent crime or controlled substance offense; and
  3. The defendant has been convicted of at least two prior felonies - either crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses.

The guidelines then set mandatory minimums and maximums for the felony in question, based on the level of the offense. The offense level will depend on the type of crime and the circumstances of the crime, including if minors where involved, if a weapon was involved or the amount of controlled substance involved.

Because federal sentencing guidelines include enhancements and mandatory minimums, it is of the utmost importance to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you suspect you are under federal investigation or have been arrested for a federal crime. An attorney can help you defend your rights and seek the best possible outcome.

Tags: federal crime, federal sentencing guidelines

Clients with disabilities or impairments
Access to our office is available to clients and their family members at all times. Special equipment and communication devices are available upon request for our clients with visual, hearing, speech and physical impairment. In addition, arrangements can be made for verbal or sign language interpreters if needed to communicate between our attorneys and the client and family. Please notify our law office if any additional accommodations related to your disability or impairment are necessary to make your consultation more comfortable.

I understand that I am contacting a corporation, not an individual, and that if I do business with the law firm, it will be with that corporation, not any individual(s). I understand that Greg Smith and Associates is not the legal name of the law firm, rather, it is "Affordable Legal Advocates, PC." I also understand that whatever may relate to, or arise out of, any communication with the law firm, which results in any type of legal action, such must be brought in the Third District Court of Utah, West Jordan Department, and that this is mandatory not permissive.

Feedback From Satisfied Clients

"The domestic violence and DUI crimes that I was charged with would have ruined my career. Thank you for saving me! You are worth every penny I paid you."

More Testimonials

Avvo Clients' Choice Award. 5 Stars
5 Star Rating


   Review Us On Google
Follow the button to go to our Google Maps profile, then scroll down to the bottom to leave a review.



Greg Smith and Associates, Criminal Law Attorneys, located in Salt Lake City (SLC), also represents clients from communities such as Provo, Orem, Ogden, Park City, Sandy, Draper, West Valley City, Bountiful, Murray, West Jordan, Taylorsville, Farmington, Alta, Bluffdale, Cottonwood Heights, Draper, Herriman, Holladay, Midvale, Murray, Riverton, Sandy, South Jordan, South Salt Lake, Taylorsville, West Jordan, West Valley City and Richfield; and counties including Salt Lake County, Sevier County and Davis County, Utah.

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Disclaimer

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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