Addressing sentencing of fraud under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, P.2
Last time, we began looking at the issue of sentencing when it comes to federal fraud charges. As we noted, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines take the amount of money involved in the scheme into significant consideration when determining the appropriate sentence.
The guidelines do this specifically by making the “offense seriousness level” dependent on the amount of money involved. Under the guidelines, fraud crimes with a maximum term of 20 years in prison or more are assigned a base offense level of 7, but points can be added depending on how much money is involved.
Offense seriousness can also be increased by various other factors related to the offense. These factors include things like whether there was involvement of 10 or more victims, whether the defendant mass-marketed the fraud scheme, and whether any of the victims are deemed to have suffered substantial hardship as a result of the fraud scheme.
Offense seriousness is not the only component that affects sentencing, of course. There is also the defendant’s criminal history and other factors that can warrant adjustments in an offender’s sentencing range. Each of these factors needs to be carefully considered and calculated to ensure that the proper sentencing range is reached in the context of the guidelines. There is also the added factor, as we mentioned before, that judges may exercise discretion in the application of the guidelines as a whole.
All this is to say that strong advocacy is necessary to ensure that a defendant’s rights and interests are advocated during the sentencing phase of the criminal process.