US Sentencing Commission Set to Revise White-Collar Crime Sentences

Earlier this year the US Sentencing Commission reduced guideline ranges for nonviolent drug crimes. This past Thursday, the federal panel unanimously approved its latest set of priorities: white-collar crime sentences. The panel revealed that it is considering changes to guidelines for some white-collar crimes. So what type of differences can we expect? The panel revealed that the top priority will be working with Congress on reducing the scope of mandatory minimum penalties, but another goal will be measuring the fairness of sentences for fraud and other economic crimes.

The federal panel has been reviewing data for several years but still plans on hearing more from judges, victims, and others to decide whether there are ways the economic crime guidelines could work better. Defense lawyers have been seeking these types of changes for a long time. These lawyers saw an open window when the sentencing commission cut sentencing guidelines for drug crimes, which cleared a major priority from its agenda.

The specifics about the actions and changes the commission will make are unclear at this point. One factor that weighs heavily on the commission is the public outrage at fraudsters who stole their clients' life savings and lingering anger over the damage inflicted by the 2008 financial crisis. But the discussion about tweaking sentences for economic crimes comes as some federal judges have chosen to ignore the existing guidelines in some cases.

Although the sentencing guidelines are advisory rather than mandatory, most judges still rely on them heavily for consistency's sake. Advocates arguing that white-collar sentencing guidelines are "mixed up and crazy" could weaken support for keeping them in place, said Ohio State University law professor Douglas Berman, a law expert.

Just as drug sentences historically have been determined by the amount of drugs involved, white-collar punishments typically are defined by the total financial loss caused by the crime. A proposal from an American Bar Association task force in 2013 encourages judges to place less emphasis on the money lost and more on a defendant's culpability. The federal panel is continuously meeting and will hopefully have more updates on the prospective changes in white-collar crime sentences soon.

Source: Boston Globe, Sentencing panel to rethink economic crime penalties, Eric Tucker, August 15, 2014.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
  • Badge 1
  • Badge 2
  • Badge 3
  • Badge 4
  • Badge 5
  • Badge 6
  • Badge 7
  • Badge 8

Contact O'Brien Hatfield, PA for a free case evaluation today

In Tampa, call (813) 345-4909. In Orlando, call (888) 496-5916 . For fast answers, email us using the form below.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

This site uses Google's Invisible reCAPTCHA, which is subject to Google's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Footer Brand

Tampa Bay Office
511 West Bay Street Suite 330
Tampa, FL 33606

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 813-345-4909
Tampa Law Office Map

Central Florida Office
121 South Orange Avenue Suite 1500
Orlando, FL 32801

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 407-686-1696
Orlando Law Office Map

South Florida Office
Northbridge Tower
515 North Flagler Drive
Suite P-300
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 407-686-1696
South Florida Office Map

South Florida Office
Brickell Bay Office Tower
1001 Brickell Bay Drive
Suite 2700 M-1
Miami, FL 33131

Toll Free: 888-496-5916
Phone: 305-859-0046
Miami Law Office Map