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DC Federal Conspiracy Penalties

Conspiracy is a charge that entails being aware of or involved in the planning of a criminal offense. The crime does not have to be executed for an individual to be charged. Furthermore, DC federal conspiracy penalties can be quite severe. That is why it is important to work with a skilled federal defense attorney that could help build an individual’s case and mitigate the penalties that they may face.

Ways That Federal Conspiracy Cases Are Investigated 

Federal conspiracy cases are investigated thoroughly and intensely by various law enforcement agencies. Some of the techniques used are subpoenas for documents and for people to testify at a grand jury, wiretaps, confidential informants, the use of GPS monitoring on vehicles, the tapping of cellphones, the examination of cellphones to be used in search warrants, and the examination of documents.

Potential Penalties

When someone is charged under 18 U.S.C. Section 371, the general conspiracy statute, that statute carries a maximum of five years in prison. Sentences are determined using the calculations under  the United States Sentencing Guidelines. An advisory, not mandatory, guideline range may also be determined by the substantive offense that is also be charged.

For instance, someone is charged in a conspiracy to import improperly prepared pharmaceutical drugs from overseas. The guideline range is determined based on the substantive offense. The individual is also charged with the importation in addition to the conspiracy.

Sometimes, a person’s sentencing guideline range is more than the maximum amount of time under the general conspiracy statue. In that case, the guideline range becomes the maximum which could be five years.

Minimum and Maximum Sentences

Different statutes carry different potential maximum
DC federal conspiracy penalties and have different potential guideline ranges. For example, when someone is charged with a conspiracy to launder money, the money laundering guidelines are quite severe. The guideline range for the charge for the conspiracy to launder money will usually be high.   The substantive money laundering offense often carries extremely high guideline ranges.  

Aggravating Factors

The typical aggravating factors that may be implicated in a conspiracy case are outlined in various sections of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. Some of these factors are:

  • The amount of money involved
  • The person’s role in the conspiracy
  • The number of alleged victims

The amount of money involved in the conspiracy is also called the loss amount. The higher the amount of money involved, the higher the potential sentence under the guidelines. There could be an enhancement if the individual charged is deemed to be an organizer or leader in the conspiracy. A conspiracy involving more than 10 alleged victims could result in an enhancement. If a substantial portion of the conspiracy is conducted overseas, that may constitute another enhancement towards the DC federal conspiracy penalties that a person may face.

How Does the Federal Sentencing System Work in DC?

The federal sentencing system is governed in part by the United States Sentencing Guidelines that are advisory in nature. A judge must determine a guideline range, but does not have to follow it. Judges use the range as a starting point. Judges  use the guidelines not as a mandatory sentencing factor but as an important guidepost and often follow them.

If a person is found guilty at trial or pleads guilty, they have an interview with a probation officer who gathers biographical information about the offense and makes a determination as to what the guideline range should be. The prosecutor and the defense attorney do their own calculations and each submits a memorandum to the judge. The defense attorney also makes objections or suggests corrections to the draft pre-sentencing report prepared by the probation office. A judge makes a ruling on the objections, identifies the advisory sentencing guideline range, and makes a determination about whether to go upward or downward on the sentence from where the guidelines indicate, based upon factors identified under 18 U.S.C. Section 3553(a). If an individual wants to know more about the Sentencing Guidelines, what DC federal conspiracy penalties they could expect to face, and how to mitigate those penalties, they should speak with a skilled attorney that could help.

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