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Panel's plan aims to adjust federal white-collar crime sentences

Regular readers of this blog may recall that back in August of last year we highlighted that the U.S. Sentencing Commission anticipated focusing more attention on revising federal guidelines related to convictions in white-collar crime cases. As a result of the panel's efforts, there is some growing anticipation that penalties for certain financial crimes could be reduced in some instances.

At issue, according to many defense attorneys, is the fact that the current advisory guidelines put so much emphasis on the amount of monetary loss suffered by investors in stock fraud cases, rather than on any actual gains that various defendants might have realized. As a result, minor players convicted in a large scheme might be penalized as harshly as those who gleaned the most from an offense. 

Since that post, the commission has indeed been working on coming up with a proposal to reframe the guidelines so that the financial gains by defendants convicted of such fraud become a bigger part of the calculation in determining possible sentences.

A number of defense attorneys say that the recommendations unveiled last month could lead to some lighter punishments. But they also caution that the specifics of a given case could significantly influence any outcome.

The commission still has to hold more hearings on the proposal. Those are slated to take place next month. The process then calls for the group to submit final amendments to Congress by May 1. If Congress takes no action by Nov. 1, the proposed changes would take effect.

White-collar crime is not limited to stock fraud. Allegations of mortgage fraud, embezzlement or credit card fraud are among the financial crimes that might prompt charges. Whatever the accusation might be, the first move someone facing charges should be to contact an experienced attorney. 

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