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Synopsis of a Federal Sentencing Hearing

Posted by John Rogers | Jan 08, 2021

A federal sentencing hearing is arguably one of the most important hearings in a criminal case. It officially provides certainty to a criminal defendant who has long been awaiting closure. The judge will take into account several key factors outlined under 18 U.S.C. § 3553 prior to issuing a sentence.

Prior to the hearing, the prosecutor and defense attorney will file objections to the presentence report and/or a sentencing memorandum. These memorandums will discuss both the aggravating and mitigating factors of the defendant's conduct.

After ruling on any presentence report objections, the court will allow the defendant's attorney to speak first. The court does not set time limitations on counsel. Afterwards, the court will allow the government to present their argument(s). The court will then allow defense counsel to a few moments for rebuttal.

After the parties have made their arguments, the judge will allow the defendant to address the court.

The court will then sentence the defendant and state the reasons why they believe the sentence is appropriate.

Sentencing hearings can be a few moments or last hours depending on the complexity of the case and the objections lodged. A sophisticated white collar case involving wire fraud or the transfer of money may require more analysis on the sentencing enhancements. Whereas, a basic drug trafficking case may have no issues, and thus, have a shorter sentencing hearing.

If you have been charged with a federal crime, then contact our office today. Contact us to schedule a free confidential consultation with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney. We stand ready to intervene at all stages of the criminal process including pre-indictment investigations, jury trial, and sentencing hearings.

About the Author

John Rogers

*State Bar Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Law *Top 40 Under 40 by the National Trial Lawyers Association *Selected “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine *Federal Criminal Defense Representation Nationwide *Personalized Attention & 24/7 Accessibility


Orange County federal crimes lawyer John Rogers is committed to providing exceptional representation all throughout California federal courts.

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