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Examining the Dilemma Created by Harsh Federal Sentencing Guidelines

IN THE 15 years since the implementation of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, it has become increasingly clear to defense attorneys that “guilty” clients have to so plead. Gambling on a jury is no longer an option for an alleged felon facing compelling evidence of criminal conduct. The Guidelines have made the stakes too high for most. Trials are expensive. Convictions at trial carry heftier jail sentences then convictions by plea. In the white-collar crime world, if two individuals are convicted, one by a jury and one by a guilty plea, it is a virtual certainty that the individual who pleads guilty will receive a more lenient sentence, perhaps even home confinement.

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