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 How to Hire a Consultant to Prepare for Sentencing 

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Michael Santos

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Statistics show some troubling realities. It’s good to learn. What happens when the federal government brings charges?

A sentencing hearing follows more than 85% of the time. With those kinds of odds, it makes sense for every defendant to understand sentencing. A consultant can help. But how will a defendant should qualify the guide? Make a good a hiring decision by asking questions.

A good consultant will understand how the sentencing system operates.

Understand Sentencing:

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In the United States, we have 53 different criminal codes. Every state has its own criminal code. The District of Columbia has its own criminal code. The military has a criminal code. And the federal government has a criminal code.

What can we learn from one jurisdiction to help us in another?

Besides different codes, venues and jurisdictions differ. In the federal system, for example, there are 91 different districts. Each district has several judges. Those judges use the federal sentencing guidelines. Yet sentencing guidelines are advisory. Judges have discretion. Each judge will have his or her own sentencing policies.

What steps can a you take to prepare for the most favorable outcome? Prepare well.

A good consultant helps a client prepare for sentencing.

What does “preparing for sentencing” mean? First, the person must understand how the system operates. Many stakeholders in a sentencing process have influence. Your consultant should have a solid grasp of how to prepare. What will the stakeholders expect?

Due diligence on the consultant will help. Ask questions. The following questions may help guide the interview:

  • What level of experience do you have in working with judges?
  • How have you interacted with prosecutors and probation officers?
  • In what ways can we influence their thinking?
  • Tell me about the research you’ve done on sentencing districts.
  • How do sentences differ in various venues?
  • How does a determinate sentencing system work?
  • How can you prepare me for sentencing?
  • How will your services differ from the attorney that represents me?
  • How can I assess whether you’re doing a good job?
  • How will hiring you lead to a better outcome for me at sentencing?

Your consultant should respond to your questions from a position of strength. He should provide documents that validate his statements. If he offers you boilerplate, beware. Boilerplate is a red flag. Boilerplate does not provide much in the way of value.

Sentencing is personal. Prepare!

The truth is, no one can change the past. A good consultant will influence the best possible outcome. He will show his value in the marketplace with testimonials from stakeholders. They should come from every level. A good consultant should anticipate what prosecutors will argue. They use Socratic questioning. They build solid a strategy. They bring possibilities for a better outcome, given the facts at hand.

Red flags surface when a sentencing consultant’s primary validation is time served. Who cares? Further, a client should beware of any consultant that pledges anything but honesty.

Due diligence will lead a defendant to find a good consultant. The consultant should inspire trust. Preparing for a sentencing hearing is an essential step in moving forward. There should be a deliberate course of action. Together, the consultant and the client should establish a solid plan. The plan should have clearly defined priorities. The consultant should respond to any question the client has. The consultant should help the client work more effectively with the defense attorney.

It’s never too early and it’s never too late to begin preparing for a better outcome. If you find a consultant with a depth and breadth of experience, you should restore confidence. Rather than spiraling out of control, waiting for others to make decisions on your behalf, take action. That action will bring a sense of purpose. You’ll be on your way toward building a new life, leaving behind the troubling past.

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