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Stages of DC Federal Sentencing

For those convicted of a federal crime in Washington, DC the next step of the criminal process will be sentencing where a person’s punishment will be determined. The following is information on the two stages of federal sentencing and what you should expect from each. To discuss what can be done regarding federal sentencing in your case, call and schedule a free consultation with a DC federal criminal lawyer today.

Stage 1: Pre-Sentence Investigation Report

Several weeks before the sentencing hearing, the probation office will interview a defendant to prepare the pre-sentence investigation report or PSR. At this interview, they will be asked about the offense. They will also be asked about their background and personal facts about them and your family.

The person should be prepared to provide the probation office comprehensive information about their history, family circumstances, past jobs and education. This usually catches people off guard, but the PSR is a very personal document and very important to one’s sentencing. Being prepared can go a long way.

A defense attorney should be present during the interview to make sure that the information is conveyed properly to the probation officer. Reviewing the draft PSR with your attorney is also an important stage.

Step 2: Sentencing Hearing

Looking ahead a few weeks to the sentencing hearing, a person should be mentally prepared for the possibility that the judge can order them to immediately start serving their sentence after the hearing.

There is no guarantee that a person will be able to go home after the sentencing hearing and then report to prison a few weeks later. Every defense attorney will try to get a self-surrender situation for their client, but that is not always guaranteed, especially if the crime involved some violence, if the sentence is particularly high, or if there is a strong incentive to flee after sentencing.

The judge might remand a person immediately for sentencing to serve their sentence. Being mentally prepared at this stage is very important. A defendant should also take care of their personal affairs while they are still out.  Once inside prison, taking care of one’s affairs becomes very difficult.

What To Expect From a Sentencing Hearing

A sentencing hearing takes several hours, especially if there are outstanding issues related to the guidelines or any departures or variance arguments that the parties want to make. Simpler cases can result in a shorter amount of time.

The sentencing hearing will take place before the judge assigned to your case. The courtroom that you have been going to for status conferences, hearings, and trials will probably be where the sentencing will be held.

The judge is involved, and presides over the sentence and is the person that determines ultimately what sentence to dispense. The prosecutor is involved, and will generally speak first and present their argument as to why they believe a particular sentence is appropriate. Then the defense attorney will speak and make their arguments as to why a particular sentence is appropriate. The defendant then has an opportunity to speak on his or her own behalf and address the court and the judge directly immediately before the judge issues a sentence.

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Sentencing in DC Federal Cases

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