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Downward Departures Outside the Heartland

Certain instances the defendant may be eligible for a sentence that is outside of the guidelines. Achieve the best outcome and call us for expert legal help!

Chicago Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

Federal sentencing guidelines prescribe minimum and maximum sentences for individuals convicted of federal crimes. In certain instances, the defendant may be eligible for a sentence that is outside of the guidelines range when specific mitigating factors are present. The court may consider a wide range of factors to determine whether they distinguish the crime in question from the heartland of cases. The heartland refers to what conduct or behavior is considered typical of for a particular crime and generally corresponds to a specific sentencing range. If a case involves circumstances that set it apart from the heartland, the defendant may be eligible for a downward departure from the federal sentencing guidelines.

When the Court May Consider a Downward Departure

Federal courts may consider a downward departure for cases outside the heartland when specific criteria are met. These criteria, established by the Supreme Court in the case of Koon v. United States, are as follows:

  • The particular features of the case distinguish it from a typical heartland case or otherwise mark it as special or unusual.
  • The U.S. Sentencing Commission does not prevent a departure based on consideration of those specific features which distinguish the case in question.
  • Whether the U.S. Sentencing Commission has either encouraged or discouraged a departure based on the features associated with the case.
  • Whether the features in question are sufficient to take the case outside the heartland if the guidelines do not specifically mention those factors which make the unusual or special.

Some examples of the types of factors that may take a case outside the heartland guidelines include:

  • A defendant who does not fit the profile of a typical offender or whose crime is considered to be a deviation from their typical behavior
  • A defendant who was suffering from diminished capacity due to psychological or emotional problems at the time the crime was committed
  • A defendant who lacks criminal intent or who commits a criminal act in order to avoid creating a more substantial harm

These are just a few of the types of cases that the court may consider when determining whether a heartland departure is warranted. Your Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer can conduct a thorough evaluation of the facts of your case to determine whether the circumstances support a downward departure.

Federal Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago

If you’re facing trial for a federal crime or you’ve already been convicted, the right legal representation can make all the difference in the type of sentence you receive. When your liberty is at stake, it’s vital that you act as quickly as possible to obtain the assistance of a knowledgeable Chicago criminal defense attorney.

Attorney Matthew Chivari specializes in providing vigorous and aggressive representation to individuals facing prosecution at the federal level. His years of experience and extensive knowledge of federal law ensure that you will receive the most effective defense possible.

Located in Chicago, Federal Criminal Defense Attorney Matthew Chivari is available to assist federal defendants throughout Illinois and the United States. To learn how he can help you achieve the best resolution possible, call (312) 626-2400 to begin your free initial case evaluation.

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