Federal Law | Lipman & Katz

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Federal Law

Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The federal sentencing guidelines govern how sentences are calculated in federal court. Often, because of the amount of resources the federal government has, when a case is presented to a federal court, there is little question of guilt. The federal prosecutors “cherry pick” the best, most serious cases. Federal prosecutors do not like to lose, and they devote vast resources to making sure that whatever cases they select are the most difficult for the defense to win. If the client reaches a decision to plead guilty, or if they are found guilty after a trial, the next step is for the preparation of a pre-sentence report. The pre-sentence report analyzes the client and the factual circumstances of the case to come up with a recommended sentence. The recommended sentence is based on the United States sentencing guidelines. While the federal sentencing guidelines are extremely complex, at its most basic, they act like a multiplication chart. 

Across the top of the chart are categories 1-6. Category 1 is for people with little or no criminal history. Category 6 is for people with extensive criminal history. Down the side of the chart are categories 1-43 called “base offense levels.” After determining the relevant base offense level from the extensive guideline manual and calculating the client’s criminal history points, the court can determine a starting point for the number of months the client potentially faces. Prior to some recent case law, the sentencing guidelines used to be mandatory. Now, once the guideline range has been determined, the court then analyzes the situation through the lens of 18 U.S.C. § 3553 which allows the court to go up or down from the guideline range. At Lipman & Katz, we are skilled in working to minimize the impact of the federal sentencing guidelines upon our clients. Using the federal sentencing guidelines, once we have minimized the amount of time a client faces, we then turn to the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553 to attempt to persuade the court that the client deserves leniency. 

Federal Firearms Cases

The federal government has devoted extensive resources to the prosecution of gun crimes. There are special prosecutors within the United States Attorney’s Office dedicated to prosecuting persons who are prohibited from possessing firearms. Such persons can be felons, persons accused of domestic violence assault, or aliens. The federal government also closely watches federal firearms dealers for paperwork violations. At Lipman & Katz, we understand firearms and the firearm culture. Some of our attorneys own and shoot firearms and have been members of the military. If you have been accused of a federal firearms offense, please do not hesitate to call us.

Wildlife Smuggling

At Lipman & Katz, we have developed expertise in this unusual area of the law. Steve Smith has defended only the second whale tusk smuggling case that has ever gone to trial in the United States history. We understand the CITES Treaty (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Our attorneys have worked against prosecutors from the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office as well as the Environmental Crimes section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office based out of Washington D.C. Whether the issue is how to identify smuggled ivory, determining the value of smuggled ivory, dealing with the complexities of international extradition treaties and the nuances of Canadian wildlife law as applied to the United States, we understand this odd and specialized field. Whether you are an antique dealer, curio collector, or simply have an unusual hobby in exotic species, the federal government stands ready to spend enormous resources to enforce the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (the “ESA”) which is enforced by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and other agencies of Homeland Security. If you are accused of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, or simply of smuggling wildlife, wildlife parts, or other forms of endangered or exotic species into the United States, the attorneys at Lipman & Katz stand ready to assist. We are willing to partner with local counsel throughout the United States to assist you in a vigorous trial defense.