Thursday, May 16, 2013


Clearwater criminal attorneys who practice in the Federal criminal justice system court system are often dumfounded by the senseless Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Congress continues to create new Federal offenses for a wide range of criminal conduct that was once the purview of state courts. And counterintuitively as more petty misconduct becomes federal, that same misconduct draws ever harsher punishment merely because it is federal.

The U.S. Supreme Court  has given Tampa Bay federal judges the opportunity to have more discretion; the judges should now demand a Federal Pretrial Intervention Program.

Some members of Congress are considering expanding the safety valve provision to apply to cases other than those involving drugs. The idea is that most Federal sentencing is far too harsh especially when minimum mandatory sentences are triggered. 

Even when a Federal drug defendant avoids a minimum mandatory sentence and gains a two level downward departure for safety valve, the harsh prescribed sentence rarely seems to be based on a fair consideration of the actual facts and circumstances of the case. Instead the sentence will be based on the arcane dictates of the Sentencing Guidelines, which is based on severe punishment rather than deterrence.

In the Middle District of Florida the better Federal Judges are embracing the recent Supreme Court rulings permanently establishing, one presumes, that the Federal Guidelines are meant to be merely advisory. Yet even when these Judges would want to grant lighter sentences based on the personal characteristics of a Defendant, the Federal Guidelines make the process much more difficult because so much Federal charged misconduct calls for significant prison time.
Although what may be needed in Federal sentencing is a system that allows for greater discretion for Federal Judges while reducing the power of Federal prosecutors, the goal of fair sentencing could also be accomplished by diverting nonviolent and less significant cases from the Federal sentencing structure. 
The best way to accomplish this goal would be to establish an effective Federal Pretrial Intervention Program. Those with minimal prior records, who are accused of nonviolent acts such as drug possession or sale would be given an opportunity to have their indictments dismissed upon completion of programs based on deterrence rather than punishment.
In the Tampa Bay, the Florida state court system, allows first time offenders charged in misdemeanors or third degree felonies to avoid a conviction. The reduction of cases allows prosecutors and judges to concentrate their time and resources on the most important cases. Yet Florida is going a step further by experimenting with a civil citation program for nonviolent criminal offenses
Wouldn't the Federal criminal system also benefit by eliminating the clutter thru a Pretrial Intervention Program for nonviolent, first time offenders while giving these defendants the benefit of a second chance without ruining their lives? In the mean time Clearwater criminal defense lawyers will do everything possible to find the best possible solution for first time, non violent offenders in the Middle District of Florida in Tampa.

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