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How much discretion do federal judges have in issuing sentences?

If you should ever have the misfortune of being charged with a federal crime, you may ultimately find yourself on trial. On the whole, the American judicial system is constructed to provide those who are accused of a crime the opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law. Given that federal crimes are under the jurisdiction of the United States government, it would seem logical that a defendant appearing in a federal court would be afforded the best chance possible to receive a fair verdict in his or her trail. However, this is not necessarily the case.

So why might a defendant not get an appropriate verdict in a federal court? Well, ironically the problem may be traced to the government's attempts at creating fairness. Federal judges are required to follow, without deviation, a collection of sentencing guidelines. The guidelines were written to help ensure that all defendants who were on trial for similar crimes would be treated equally.

On the surface, the guidelines seem like a good idea. The problem is that federal judges have very little leeway in regard to sentencing. A judge may only deviate from the prescribed guidelines in certain circumstance. All of this can make it very easy for a defendant to receive a sentence that may not be appropriate to the alleged crime.

If you are ever charged with a federal crime, it is very important to carefully map out an effective defense strategy. Therefore, you might find it extremely beneficial to solicit the services of an attorney who has experience working in the federal court system. An experienced federal criminal attorney may be able to assess the details of your situation and work on your behalf in an effort to prevent your incarceration.

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