Sentencing Advocacy

What makes a good sentencing memorandum?

The defense sentencing memorandum is the cornerstone of advocacy for a rigorous defense at sentencing.  This is because, admittedly many Judges already have an idea of the sentence they will impose by the time the hearing arrives.  By the time of the hearing, the Judge has already read the United States Department’s presentence investigation report, the government’s sentencing memorandum and the defense memorandum.  So, presenting a strong memorandum, along with all appropriate arguments and mitigation, is imperative.  I usually attach character letters from family and friends, as well as supporting documents, as exhibits to my sentencing memorandum.  This way the Court already recognizes the defendant is supported by people before His/Her Honor even sits down at the hearing.

A good sentencing memorandum, in my opinion, should tell a story about the person’s life—and not just beg for mercy.  It should force the Court to look at the client through different eyes, and not the factual only rendition of the US Probation’s or the punitive regurgitation of the government’s.  By seeing my client as I see them, the Court is more likely to have mercy and grant my request for downward variances/departures, as well as give a sentence below the guideline range.

A prepared attorney will have all mitigation in place which can include school records, psychiatric/psychological reports, medical documents, and employment records.  These go beyond the character letters to give the attorney’s memorandum credence in the Court’s eyes.  Having these records can take time, and an efficient attorney will start ordering these as soon as the client pleas, or is found guilty, to show the Court it avoids any unnecessary delays.

What makes good advocacy at sentencing?

A good defense attorney knows the Sentencing Guidelines arguments that apply to each individual circumstances of the defendant.  They can also tell the story of how and why the defendant arrived at this place in the criminal justice system, and why they are deserving of a break, or even a second (sometimes third!) chance.  A great attorney will make the Court feel empathy by demonstrating all the good things of the defendant, many have more than they even know about.  It is the job of the federal defense attorney to get to know his/her client so well that they can bring these things forward to the Court’s attention.

If you, or a loved one, wish to have this type of representation at trial please contact Laguzzi Law, P.C. for a consultation.