If your are convicted of a felony in federal court, a U.S. District Judge will conduct your sentencing hearing. Prior to the hearing the judge will review the final draft of the Pre-Sentence Report. In addition, he or she will review the Sentencing Memorandum, character reference letters, recommendations by the probation officer and other information in order to impose a sentence that is consistent with the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the factors identified in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).
At sentencing, the judge will ask if you have received a copy of the pre-sentence report. He or she will ask if you have reviewed it with your lawyer. The judge will consider objections to the Pre-Sentence Report. Objections can be made by the defense or by the government. Objections should be in writing and submitted in advance of the sentencing hearing.
The judge will hear arguments and evidence on the objections that your lawyer was not able to resolve with the probation officer. The judge will rule on the objections. The judge’s rulings will establish a guideline range. Your lawyer and the lawyer for the government will have an opportunity to argue for the sentence that each believes is appropriate. You will have the opportunity to make a statement. The judge will consider the information contained in the Pre-Sentence Report, the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the factors identified in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), the sentencing memorandum, the arguments, your statement, and the character reference letters to determine your sentence.
The importance of preparation cannot be overstated when it comes to a federal sentencing hearing. Different judges have different preferences, procedures and practices. What is important to one judge may be less important to another. You and your lawyer should prepare for this hearing like it is the most important day of you life because it is.