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Sentencing Factors in White Collar Criminal Defense

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/12/14 at 12:30pm

If you’ve been charged with a white collar crime (i.e., financial fraud, insider trading, etc.), then you may be facing overwhelming and life-changing consequences.  A conviction for a white collar crime may carry with it significant penalties that could include years of imprisonment and full restitution for the monetary losses incurred.

Your potential sentence could vary quite a bit, however, depending on the presence of mitigating factors.  Let’s take a closer look.

Sentencing Guidelines

Judges first evaluate the offense level of a white collar crime in accordance with the applicable sentencing guidelines (federal or state).  It’s important to note that judges are not bound to the sentencing guidelines — they simply establish a baseline for the crime at-issue.

Mitigating Factors Can Be Quite Varied

Generally speaking, the courts may depart from the sentencing guidelines when there are mitigating factors present that might justify a reduction in the sentence.  The personal mitigating factors that may be accounted for by a judge in a white collar criminal dispute are varied.  Factors that may have a mitigating effect on the length (and severity) of a sentence include, but are not necessarily limited, to the following:

  • Defendant’s character (as measured by the positive impact on their community and general status as a “good person” who does “good deeds”)
  • Whether the defendant had a malicious intent
  • Whether the defendant was culpable
  • Whether the defendant had significant structural, societal, or organizational pressures that influenced their criminal decisions
  • Whether the defendant has a prior criminal record
  • And more

For example, white collar defendants are often first-time offenders.  If the defendant is an otherwise “standup” member of society and contributes their time and money to various charitable organizations, is a well-liked member of their community, and has never been arrested or charged with a crime before, then the judge is very likely to depart from the sentencing guidelines and reduce the sentence accordingly.  The judge may impose probation instead of imprisonment.

Consult a Seasoned Alexandria White Collar Defense Attorney

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique white collar defense and commercial litigation firm based out of Alexandria, VA, and serving clients throughout the NOVA region (including the Washington D.C. metro area).  Our attorneys have decades of experience working with white collar defendants in a variety of disputes, including situations where sentencing is a core issue in litigation.

Navigating the difficult landscape of a white collar criminal dispute is benefited by understanding the factors that go into sentencing a defendant.  If you can clearly demonstrate that — even in the event that criminal liability is imposed — the sentencing is likely to be minimal, then you will have gained substantial leverage during negotiations with prosecutors.

We believe that effective representation involves communicative, client-oriented service.  If you’d like to learn more about how we can help defend you in white collar litigation, we encourage you to call 703-888-1943 or request an appointment online to connect to an experienced Alexandria white collar defense attorney at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC.