In an effort to secure more lenient sentences, using sentencing consultants is a popular and effective strategy. As defense attorneys, we commonly call upon these experts at trial to help complete the picture of the circumstances leading up to the alleged crime and provide options other than jail time for possible sentences.
Does Using Sentencing Consultants Work?
Yes, many defense lawyers and their defendants have seen success with this strategy. Recently, parents involved in the college admissions fraud scandal who plead guilty used sentencing experts as part of their criminal defense cases.
Case and Point…
$250,000 scheme at USC
Los Angeles businessman, Devin Sloane, acknowledged that he was part of a $250,000 scheme to get his son admitted to the University of Southern California by passing him off as recruit for the water polo team.
Sloane used a sentencing expert to propose a community service project that would allow him to “make amends” by raising funds for the Special Olympics. He also submitted to the judge a video featuring his charitable work and praise from his peers.
$400,000 at Georgetown
Stephen Semprevivo, also a businessman from LA, admitted that he paid $400,000 to get his son into Georgetown as a tennis recruit, even though the son never once played competitive tennis.
Semprevivo hired a well-known criminologist and court consultant to submit a 34-page report which detailed how a difficult childhood left him susceptible to being manipulated into being a part of the admissions scheme.
Both men pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud and both were sentenced to just four months in prison – less than prosecutors had sought, however according to the judge, within federal guidelines.
Sentenced to 14 days
A more well-known figure in the admissions scandal is Felicity Huffman, whose lawyers commissioned and submitted a statistical analysis of sentences for similar defendants. Huffman was recently sentenced to just 14 days in prison for her role in her daughter’s college admissions conspiracy scandal. She served 11-days of her 14-day sentence.
Is This Legal?
Yes, hiring consultants and other experts for criminal sentencings is legal. In fact, it is a highly effective criminal defense strategy (especially in felony or federal charges). It is one that we use often at Stechschulte Nell Attorneys at Law.
It is not a “get out of jail free” card, but a strategy that is effective in lessening prison or jail time sentences. As part of our commitment to defend our clients to the best of our ability, we will hire mental health experts and private investigators to do the following for our clients:
- Provide a “whole picture” point of view of a client and not just the crime he or she has been charged with.
- Determine what the cause was behind the crime.
- Demonstrate that mental health issues, such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, or depression could have been a large part of why the crime was committed.
- Present the client in his or her best light.
- Help to reduce sentences.
Call an Experienced Defense Attorney
If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime that could result in harsh sentencing, call our Tampa-based criminal defense law firm immediately. We will bring in sentencing consultants and other experts as needed for your unique case to build your best legal defense. When you choose our legal team, you can trust the best practices will be used for your case.
Attorney Ben Stechschulte is highly experienced in handling both state and federal cases and is a board-certified, former prosecutor. Contact us today at 813-280-1244 for a free case review.