Often, NLPA is contacted by attorneys who represent federal criminal defendants who are in need of sentencing assistance, given the wide array of arguments that can be made in favor of sentences below what is called for by the United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The case of United States v. Tarsha Brooks, case number 2:06-cr-00126-JES-DNF-1 (M.D. Fla) demonstrates how NLPA can assist counsel in the preparation of multi-faceted sentencing research that challenges the Guideline recommended sentence at sentencing, and also after a sentence has been issued.
Brooks’ family hired NLPA to provide legal services to assist his counsel, Charles Murray, with research and argument drafting in an effort to persuade the court to sentence him to the lowest possible term of confinement.
In staying abreast of relevant sentencing law, NLPA was at the forefront of conducting research once the Fair Sentencing Act was enacted.
The Fair Sentencing Act replaced the 100 to 1 crack to powder cocaine sentencing ratio with an 18 to 1 ratio (28 grams will trigger a 5 year mandatory minimum and 280 grams will trigger a ten year mandatory minimum) under 21 U.S.C. ‘841.
Although the law was not specifically stated to be retroactively applicable, NLPA assisted in the preparation of a motion for reduced sentence in Mr. Brooks’ case. The district court agreed with NLPA’s position, and reduced Mr. Brooks’ sentence from 140 months incarceration to 120 months incarceration saving Mr. Brooks’ 20 months in prison.
Mr. Brooks also assisted in obtaining justice. Mr. Brooks provided substantial assistance to law enforcement officials in the investigation of criminal activity. As a result, the government filed a motion for reduced sentence pursuant to U.S.S.G. ‘5K1.1 and Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 35(b) on Mr. Brooks’ behalf. Mr. Brooks’ total offense level was reduced to 21 and his Criminal History Category was reduced to V, resulting in a Guideline range of incarceration of between 84 and 105 months. On September 12, 2013, Mr. Brooks’ sentence was reduced to 84 months incarceration, which represented a sentence over 100 months less than the original Guidelines recommended sentence in Mr. Brooks’ case.
The bottom line is that just because an individual faces an overwhelming Guideline sentence does not mean that all attempts at securing a lesser sentence must be abandoned in deference to the Probation Office or the federal prosecutor. For more information about the legal assistance that NLPA can provide to your counsel, contact us today.