FEDERAL AND STATE CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS
O'Brien Hatfield, PA GET YOUR FREE CASE REVIEW GET YOUR FREE CASE REVIEW Click To Text
TAMPA (813) 228-6989 • ORLANDO (407) 808-6750 • en Español (813) 390-2494

Federal sentencing guidelines and downward departures, P.1

Sentencing is an important aspect of federal criminal cases. Although Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide a sentencing range deemed appropriate to the offender’s convictions, judges do have the discretion to depart from the sentencing range. Sometimes judges will opt for a downward departure, which is a sentence that falls below the suggested sentencing range. In other cases, a judge will opt for an upward departure.

Judges don’t have ultimate discretion to depart from the established sentencing range, though. There are guidelines that spell out when it may be appropriate to deviate from a recommended sentencing range, and it is possible for a judge’s sentence to be reversed for abuse of discretion, even if doing so is usually difficult. 

A good example of what a downward departure looks like was on display earlier this month in the sentencing of Bob McDonnell, the former governor of Virginia who was convicted of public corruption for accepting over $150,000 in gifts and loans from a businessman promoting shady supplement products. Initially, it was determined that the appropriate sentence for McDonnell’s 11-count conviction was over 10 years in prison. Later, his sentencing range was reduced to between 6 ½ and 8 years in prison when an obstruction of justice enhancement was factored out of the calculation.

In the end, McDonnell’s sentence of two years in prison was a significant downward departure from even that reduced range. In our next post, we’ll look at how sentencing departures work in general and why McDonnell may have received such a significant downward departure in his case.

Source: Washington Times, “Bob McDonnell sentenced to 2 years in prison for public corruption,” David Sherfinski, Jan 6, 2015. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
The New York Times | The Miami Herald | Bay News 9 | abc 7 | The Boston Globe | USA Today | Tampa Bay Times | FOX News Channel | The Washington Post | abc Good Morning America | Chicago Tribune | NT News Talk Florida | St. Petersburg Times | Deadspin
“Mark, thank you for everything. I will forever be indebted to you. You have stood by me and believed in me when it was not the popular thing to do. You are an amazing advocate.” Adam Filthaut
  • Former Partner at the Law Firm of Adams and Diaco (Robert Adams and Stephen Diaco)
  • MJ (Todd Schnitt) Morning Show/Bubba the Love Sponge Clem Trial
  • Attorney Phil Campbell DUI Setup/Florida Bar Trial
More Testimonials
American Association for Justice National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers | NACDL 1958 Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers | FACDL Super Lawyers AVVO | See Reviews LC | Lead Counsel Rated g+ | See Reviews