Orlando Law Firm

Federal Criminal Defense

mandatory minimum sentence

Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Federal Crimes


In the Booker case, the Supreme Court created some discretion for Judges handing down sentences in criminal cases.  The Booker case represents a break from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines as mandatory and now makes them advisory.  Since that decision the creation of minimum mandatory sentencing has evolved as to prevent the Judges from utilizing the discretion Booker provided.  Mandatory minimum sentence are applicable in drug crimes, gun offenses, child pornography, and criminal identity theft.


Most recently I consulted on a case that involved aggravated identity theft and involved a very large hacker network that would teach others how to obtain information to commit identity theft.  Although this person had no prior record the charge carried a severe mandatory minimum punishment.

Because this person cooperated and the charges involved other more culpable individual the sentence imposed was less than the mandatory minimum.

The government will use these crimes as a form of persuasion to coerce or intimidate an accused individual into cooperating rather than asserting their innocence and going to trial.  Government cooperation and acceptance of responsibility can alleviate the strain of mandatory minimum sentences.  A 5K letter from the Government for early cooperation is the most favorable tool a defendant has against mandatory minimum sentences.  In some cases I have advised clients that are facing serious federal charges and lengthy prison sentences to be the proffer evidence in order to avoid indictment on a mandatory minimum case.  An honest proffer and acceptance of responsibility for criminal behavior are mitigation that in Orlando will typically cut time off of the sentence imposed.

ORLANDO FEDERAL ATTORNEY will fight and advocate for you to not get sentenced under a minimum mandatory crime.

Mandatory minimum sentencing must be imposed by the Judge.  The Judge may be sympathetic to a particular defendant but the Judge cannot make the decision as to what the defendant is charged with.  The Government decides what crime to charge and so the decision to charge a crime that carries a minimum mandatory sentence rest solely with the United States Attorney’s Office.  Ten years ago mandatory minimum offenses were essentially limited to drug crimes.  The Federal Government has increased the scope and types of offenses that carry these harsh sentences.  Gun offenses often act as a kicker when the conviction is coupled with a drug crime.  A federal drug offense coupled with a firearm carries minimum mandatory sentencing and even the most reasonable prosecutor has all the leverage in that scenario.  Aggravated identity theft like the client I described above carries a 2 year minimum, but these sentences are avoidable with an experienced attorney.

ORLANDO FEDERAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY will give you an honest and informed perspective on the sentencing challenges in determining the best course of action.

Persuading a prosecutor to plea a case and reduce the charged crime to relieve the minimum mandatory sentencing is often an amazing result for a client that could be facing many years in prison.  The bottom line is that many cases are not suitable for trial, the evidence is strong and the risk is high.  I am the kind of lawyer that takes cases to trial and has lengthy conversations with clients about the potential consequences.  If the client is unsure about their ability to be successful in trial the most advantageous path may be to negotiate a plea and quickly because many times in cases with multiple defendants especially fraud and criminal conspiracies the first people to negotiate the plea will garner the most favor when it time for sentencing.

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