MY CASE IS IN FEDERAL COURT. WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE IN ARIZONA SENTENCING IN THE STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS?
The biggest initial difference between the state and federal system in Arizona is jurisdiction. Sometimes the federal government has different, and sometimes the same, jurisdiction as the state of Arizona. There is also a very large difference between how the state of Arizona sentences for crimes and how the federal government does it.
HOW DOES THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SENTENCE PEOPLE IN ARIZONA?
The federal sentencing system is very complicated. In 1984 the Congress passed the Federal Sentencing Act, which provided a complicated set of formulas resulting in a sentencing guideline for the United States District Court when faced with a defendant who has either pled guilty or been found guilty at trial. The Federal Sentencing Guidelines provide mathematical formulas for determining a category for each defendant. In turn, the category sets forth the range of months that the guidelines recommend. Certain factors permit additions or subtractions from the range of sentencing if they are factually present. Finally, there are reasons set forth in the sentencing code to permit a United States District Judge to depart from the sentencing guidelines, either downward or upward, when determining the sentence for a particular defendant.
Blakely v. Washington
In 2004, the United States Supreme court ruled that judges must adhere to the U.S Constitution's provision regarding the right to a trial by jury when increasing the length of a sentence. A judge cannot unilaterally determine that the crimes committed were particularly egregious, and thereby cannot unilaterally increase the sentence dictated by the Federal sentencing guidelines. Since this court ruling, there have been many additional developments in federal criminal sentencing procedure.
United States v. Booker
In 2005, the Supreme Court held that judicial determinations of fact not found by a jury or admitted by the defendant to increase sentences under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines violated the Sixth Amendment. As a remedy, the Court excised 18 U.S.C. § 3553(b), which created a presumption in favor of the guideline range. The Court made § 3553(a) the governing sentencing law, thus rendering the guidelines "advisory," and prescribed a unitary standard of review -- "unreasonableness" with regard to § 3553(a) -- for all sentences within or outside the guideline range. Eighteen months later, seven courts of appeals ruled the guidelines are presumptively reasonable.
I HAVE A FEDERAL CHARGE AGAINST ME. CAN I FIGHT IT?
Yes, you can fight it!
We have significant experience handling cases for clients charged in federal court. In fact, in recognition of his skill, a panel of federal judges appointed Mr. Gagic to the criminal justice act panel.
We have the skill, experience, and resources necessary to fight the virtually unlimited resources available to federal prosecutors. Often federal cases are more difficult to win. Generally federal prosecutors do not bring charges unless they have a solid case. Mr. Gagic understands what our clients are up against. When it is in our client's best interest, we negotiate with federal prosecutor to reduce charges and avoid the harsh mandatory sentences. We may be able to successfully argue your case resulting in an acceptable disposition.
Contact Vladimir Gagic at his Phoenix office today by calling 602-635-1536.