Theft / White Collar Crime - Federal Offenses FAQ
If I am found guilty of Theft / White Collar Crime in Federal Court, how will my sentence be determined?
The Unites States Sentencing Guidelines will be the starting point for determining your sentence. These Guidelines are deemed “advisory”, which means the judge can decrease or increase your sentence from that starting point, for good reason.
What will the judge look at to increase the sentence?
- A "base offense level" of 6-7 points will be the starting position.
Certain quantities of points will be added in accordance with the value the improper benefit.
- If your value exceeded $5000, the court can add from 2 to 30 points to your sentence, depending on the value of the fraud. For example, if the value of the fraud amounted to approximately $150,000, your "Offense Level" would be 18.
- Between 2 – 6 points can be added depending on the number of victims there were.
- Two points will be added if you were in the business of receiving stolen property, involved a trade secret, involved in certain specified misrepresentations, access devices, vehicle parts or cargo shipments etc.
- Four points will be added if your conduct "jeopardized the soundness" of an institution.
What do the "points" mean?
Each point increases the severity of your sentence. Each point yields additional months, or even years, in federal prison time.
What will the judge look at to decrease the sentence?
- If you agree to plead guilty, the judge can decrease your sentence.
- If you provide truthful and valuable information to law enforcement that enables them to ferret out other criminal activity, the prosecutor and/or the judge may decide to lower your sentence.
- If you had a small role in the criminal activity, your level can be decreased 2 to 4 points.
What other factors can the judge look at to increase the sentence?
- If you were in some type of leadership position in a criminal organization, the Offense Level can be increased by 2 to 4 points.
- If you took advantage of a position of trust or obstructed the Governments investigation (i.e., destroying records, lying to investigators), your Offense Level can be increased by 2 levels.
- If you have previous criminal convictions, your sentence can also be increased.
What should I do if I am charged with Theft / White Collar Crime in Federal Court?
Federal laws and sentencing procedures are extremely complex.
People charged with this offense should seek an experienced lawyer who will pursue a dismissal of these cases by exploring every avenue of defense or a minimization of the sentence.
These strategies might include:
- providing law enforcement with valuable information under carefully negotiated protocols
- re-opening and vacating a criminal record
- minimizing the amount of loss
- minimizing the role in the crime
- negotiating an early disposition prior to being charged, with a recommendation of a minimized sentence