The practice of criminal defense law requires different knowledge and expertise in federal courts than in state courts. One area where an experienced federal criminal defense attorney gives a defendant a significant advantage is Acceptance of Responsibility sentence reductions.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Under the federal sentencing guidelines, mandated terms or incarnation must be served by individuals convicted of specific federal crimes. Each of these crimes has levels of severity, each with its own sentencing requirements.One of the few ways to reduce the sentence below the federal minimum mandate is an Acceptance of Responsibility plea.

Common Legal Defense Mistakes

Criminal defense attorneys who practice only in state courts often make several common mistakes when representing clients in the federal court system.

  • They choose to litigate cases, despite the higher conviction rate in federal courts, because they do not understand that other options are available.
  • They do not consider how the Acceptance of Responsibility adjustment can positively impact their client’s sentence when developing a defense strategy.
  • They fail to understand that in some instances it is possible to litigate a case and achieve a sentence reduction under the Acceptance of Responsibility plea.
  • For these reasons, it is important to hire an experienced, board certified federal criminal defense attorney who has the expertise to assess each client’s unique circumstance and develop the best defense strategy.

Acceptance of Responsibility and an Experienced Federal Attorney

Acceptance of Responsibility is a process whereby a defendant can accept responsibility for their actions and have their sentence change within the federal sentencing guidelines. Using this defense strategy, the defendant’s sentence can be reduced by one to six years, depending on their circumstances.

An experienced federal criminal defense attorney understands many critical aspects of this process, including:

  • While the US Attorney’s Office may have an opinion about decreasing the sentence due to an Acceptance of Responsibility claim, the decision to do so rests solely with the judge.
  • The exception to this rule is if the defendant requests a three level reduction. In this situation, The US Attorney’s Office must file a formal statement that they accept this level of sentence reduction.
  • There are instances when you can litigate a case and receive an Acceptance of Responsibility sentence reduction, although it is not a common occurrence.
  • Litigation may be the best choice in some instances, depending on the fact, the quality of the evidence against you, and other factors. While you may lose if the case goes to trial, you may also get the case dismissed or potentially reduce the sentence even further than with the Acceptance of Responsibility process.

Only an experienced federal criminal defense attorney can analyze these factors and make the best choice for their client.

When facing federal criminal charges, hire an attorney who practices in this system. Ben Stechschulte, is a board certified federal criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience representing clients in the federal system. His expertise allows him to determine the best defense strategies, which may include an Acceptance of Responsibility statement. Contact our office to learn more.