Articles Posted in Sentencing

A couple weeks ago I wrote about the importance of the pre-pleading memorandum in getting better plea offers from stubborn prosecutors, or a lower promised sentence from New York State judges.  Just 10 days later, the verdict is in: despite strong opposition by the prosecutors in the case of a celebrity restaurateur accused of Grand Larceny of nearly $850,000 of investor and employee funds, the judge offered a sentence of 4 months in prison (defendant to serve 3 1/2 months beginning in late June), significantly lower than the 1-3 years prison sentence offered by the prosecutors.  The deal was accepted yesterday in Kings County Supreme Court.  Continue reading

hail-mary-300x214The vast majority of New York State criminal cases end in plea bargains; getting a favorable one, however, largely rests on the shoulders of your defense lawyer.  And while many cases allow for easily negotiated pleas, many others involve deeply unpopular conduct or which have overwhelming evidence against the defendant.  These are the cases which require creativity from your attorney to achieve the best result possible.  In this post, I will discuss pre-pleading submissions; as the best New York criminal attorneys know, a well-researched and thorough document presented to the prosecutor and/or judge which extolls the virtues of the defendant or highlights mitigating factors of the defendant’s behavior can mean the difference between lengthy prison sentences and probation.   Continue reading

The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the accused the right to effective assistance of counsel. In practice, however, a defendant who wishes to prove that he had incompetent or ineffective counsel at trial does not have an easy road to hoe in convincing the trial judge – or appellate court – to vacate a conviction.  As any of the top New York criminal appeals lawyers know, courts do not routinely grant motions for a new trial due to ineffective assistance of counsel as the result puts the defendant back to where he was prior to trial – without a conviction and out of jail.  That being said, if your lawyer works hard enough, a conviction after trial can be opened up due to counsel’s poor lawyering, no matter how bad the case is, no matter how long the sentence is – I know because we’ve done it.  Continue reading

Recently a client charged with serious federal narcotics crimes came to me with a tale of woe: his prior counsel who had been representing him during the investigation phase of the case had incredibly been simultaneously representing a witness who was cooperating against him in the same case.  When my new client was indicted he came to me, terrified, because a) his former lawyer knew all about his criminal background including the client’s culpability in the case for which he had just been indicted; and b) he was not an American citizen despite living in America since he was two years old; therefore, a conviction to any of the narcotics charges against him would result in his deportation back to a country he had not visited since he left as a child.  The client was desperate and without hope: his former lawyer had advised him to either cooperate with the government or, if deported, to attempt to illegally sneak back into America – two choices the client was unwilling to do. Within 15 minutes of meeting this client and hearing his tale of woe, I told him “I know you won’t believe this but what your former lawyer did to you may end up being your only chance out of this mess.”  Eleven months later, despite facing initially a minimum five to 40 years in prison pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) and definite deportation, my client received just a 30 month sentence to a Travel Act charge (a non-deportable offense) and received a recommendation for the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) which could result in his release from prison in just over a year.  Moral to the story: as any of the best New York federal drug and narcotics attorneys know, when given lemons in a case make lemonade.   Continue reading

Defendants seeking to reduce their federal sentences rely on their attorneys to make legal arguments pursuant to traditional methods; oftentimes, however, only the best New York federal criminal lawyers are well-versed in another avenue which can reduce a sentence by 12 months and garner a full six months of halfway house: the Bureau of Prisons’ Residential Drug Abuse Program or RDAP for short, passed into law by 18 U.S.C. § 3621.  Since 12 months off is 12 months off no matter how you couch it, shouldn’t you ensure that you receive such a reduction if eligible – especially if your sentencing judge is not inclined to give you any kind of break otherwise?  Continue reading

Federal tax cases are peculiar in that they tend to mean different things to different judges – unlike the rank and file federal criminal charges: wire and mail fraud, money laundering, RICO, extortion, narcotics offenses, child pornography charges, perjury, etc. – in all such cases judges are universally offended by the crimes and sentence accordingly.  Tax cases are a different animal and how your lawyer handles your particular judge will go a long way in determining whether you will receive a sentence which includes incarceration.   Continue reading

Today Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York cut the sentence of Anthony Mangone, a politically-connected, Westchester County disbarred lawyer convicted of corruption charges whose testimony helped convict three New York state senators and a chief of staff, a Yonkers councilwoman, the chairman of the Yonkers Republican party and an attorney.  Today’s sentence of 12 months and one day follows the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s June 14 decision vacating Judge McMahon’s 18 month sentence due to the judge applying the wrong federal sentencing guidelines; in addition, the Court of Appeals had criticized Judge McMahon for going “beyond the entirely appropriate condemnation of a defendant’s criminal conduct.” Judge McMahon also eliminated her prior fine of $15,000 and reduced Mr. Mangone’s term of supervised release from three years to one.  Jeffrey Lichtman, representing Mr. Mangone on both the appeal and at today’s sentence, stated afterward “I’m not pleased when any client is sentenced to jail time, however, I’m very happy that Anthony’s sentence was cut by a third.”  Continue reading

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Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the Constitution’s Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial does not extend post-conviction to protect defendants from lengthy sentencing delays.  The case, Betterman v. Montana, 578 U.S. __ (2016), involved a defendant who pleaded guilty to jumping bail in 2012 and languished in a Montana jail for 14 months until sentencing; in the summer of 2013 he received a seven year sentence with four years suspended.  Appearing before the judge, Betterman complained that the delay had put him on an “emotional roller coaster due to the anxiety and depression caused by uncertainty.”  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the Court, rejected this argument, holding that “[a]s a measure protecting the presumptively innocent, the speedy trial right — like other similarly aimed measures — loses force upon conviction” and that “the sole remedy for a violation of the speedy trial right” is dismissal of all charges, “which would be an unjustified windfall … to remedy sentencing delay by vacating validly obtained convictions.”   Continue reading