Federal prison consultants are asked regularly how defendants can reduce their potential prison sentences. There are few options because of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Even though the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are no longer mandatory, studies show that judges still issue sentences that are within the ranges established by the guidelines. So what is a defendant to do?
Cooperation is the factor that has the greatest potential impact on sentencing. Although it was not a federal prosecution, the recent O.J. Simpson robbery case in Nevada is a wonderful illustration of this point. Simpson and his co-defendant, who went to trial to attempt to establish their innocence, were given long sentences of up to 33 years. On the other hand, the men who joined Simpson during the robbery, the men who brought the guns, were given probation. How could there be such a difference between these sentences? The men who received probation testified against Simpson at trial and cooperated with the prosecution.
The hard fact is that indictments are sometimes used, not as the end result of a criminal investigation, but as a tool in the investigation process.
Prosecutors sometimes indict with the knowledge that they are not indicting the person who is the most significant player in a criminal enterprise. The kingpins may be more insulated from prosecution.
Therefore, one of the first questions that should be asked by anyone under indictment is whether they are the ultimate target of the investigation. They may have been indicted as a way of persuading the defendant to cooperate with the investigation of someone else. If the indicted defendant cannot deny this possibility, then that person has a chance to reduce their sentence by cooperating.
Geoff Mousseau can be found on the web at http://www.PrisonCampInc.com
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