Sentencing Advocacy

Sentencing Advocacy

In the ABA’s revised guidelines of 2003, they advised that the “defense team should consist of no fewer than two attorneys qualified in accordance with Guidleine 5.1, an investigator, and a mitigation specialists.”

Mr. Caudel, since 2002, has worked as both investigator and mitigation specialist in state and federal courts and has assisted in over 25 death penalty cases. He has proven to be a valuable member of the defense team with his abilities to connect with both the client and their families and other key mitigation witnesses to obtain sensitive data that can be detrimental in developing the sociobiological history required for a complete mitigation investigation. Often, this involves eliciting sensitive data such as a familial history of abuse, drug usage, history of mental health issues, and other “embarrassing” information.


Federal Sentencing

In this “post-Booker” world, developing a complete and accurate profile which shows the client in the best light possible can mean the difference between probation and incarceration. Mr. Caudel, having worked for the Federal Public Defender, has the background and training in developing such evidence that courts take into consideration in choosing if, and by how much, to depart from the guidelines.The Federal Sentencing Guidelines is a book of over 600 pages of extremely complicated rules and regulations that set forth the policies on sentencing for those convicted of federal crimes. If you or a loved one are facing federal charges and eventually end up either pleading guilty or are found guilty at trial, this book and the rules in it will determine how much time, if any, you will have to serve in prison.

The Guidelines determine sentences based primarily on two factors:
1) The conduct associated with the offense (the offense conduct, which produces the offense level)
2) The defendant’s criminal history (the criminal history category)

Each offense, is given a level from 1 to 43 with 43 being the most severe and each defendant is assigned a criminal history category based on the number of convictions that they have had in the past prior to the instant case.To start off, you must know the “base offense level” and the “criminal history category”. Once those are calculated, it gives you a point in which to start other calculations. These other calculations are based on circumstances that are unique to each individuals case. Such as weather a weapon was used, was the person on parole or probation at the time of the instant offense, or in the case of fraud, the total dollar amount. These are just a few examples that can either increase (enhancements) or decrease (departures) from the original point in which we started.

Once all the calculations are made, we then arrive to a certain point on the chart which gives us our sentencing range which is given in months. For example, a person that does not have any enhancements or departures who is convicted of a crime that has a base offense level of 24 and that has a criminal history category of 3, if you follow in the chart below, would have a range of 63-78 months. Or, in other words, 5 years and 3 months to 6 years and 6 months.


You will also notice that there are multiple “zones” on that chart labeled A through D. If a defendant were to fall within either Zones A or B, they are eligible for probation. Although Zone B requires at least one month of detention and the remainder may be on split confinement or other special provisions imposed by the court. Zone C as well can be split confinement however, this zone requires at least half of their sentence in confinement.
Up until a Supreme Court case in 2005, these guidelines were pretty much mandatory and the Judges hands were tied when it came to sentencing a defendant outside these stringent parameters.