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Federal and State Court Sentencing Guidelines (Term Paper Sample)


the paper is about providing the differences between state and federal courts sentencing in the United States


The State and the Federal Courts Sentencing
Institutional Affiliation
The State and the Federal Courts Sentencing
State and federal courts are characterized by a set of standards which ensure sensible and stable penalizing practices in different jurisdictions. The guidelines are targeted at the attainment of a number of core objectives. First, they are aimed at enabling judges to make well-reasoned and consistent sentencing, as well as to impose punishments that are proportionate to the committed crimes. In addition, the sentencing guidelines ensure that criminals charged with the same crime receive comparable sentences. Nonetheless, the sentencing guidelines for state and federal courts differ in a number of ways. The core differences are explored in this paper.
The Differences between State and Federal Courts Sentencing
There are a number of noticeable differences between the state and the federal court sentencing. One of the most apparent distinctions between the sentencing guidelines of the state and federal prosecutions is the penalties given for different crimes. Cohen & Yang, (2018) argue that federal courts impose harsher punishments for first-time offenders as compared to state courts. In most cases, defendants charged in federal courts face different outcomes as compared to those charged in state courts. For instance, it is common for a defendant charged with drug-related and child pornography offences in a state court to be placed on probation. Nonetheless, in a federal court, a defendant with any of these offences is likely to be sentenced to no less than ten years in prison. State courts are usually more lenient as compared to federal courts.
In the state of Texas, for instance, most individuals who have committed trivial offences such as drug abuse are placed on certain types of community supervision. The federal court sentencing, on the other hand, follows a system of guidelines which examines an individual’s offence and criminal past, using a grid system. The policy impacts very harsh sentences even if the defendant is a first time offender. A person charged with forgery in a federal court, for instance, can be sentenced to two tears as stipulated in the federal sentencing guidelines. A person who has been charged with murder in a state court, on the other hand, can be placed on probation, which is a sentence that does not fit the crime. Generally, federal courts give harsher penalties than state courts.
Mandatory minimums are also a fundamental difference between the sentencing guidelines of the state and federal courts. Judges in state courts are required to strictly follow the mandatory minimums despite the wide of range of circumstances surrounding a crime (Gilpin, 2012). Consequently, a vast number of individuals have issued sentences even if they are not deserving of them. The magistrates in state courts lack flexibility when it comes to the issue of sentencing. Meanwhile, there is much more flexibility in federal court judges, who depend on a manual for sentencing strategies (Gilpin, 2012). Nonetheless, it is not an essential requirement for them to strictly follow the manual. Hence, the judges have the ability to deviate from the sentencing rules when necessary. Consequently, they can impose lesser sentences as opposed to what is required. This flexibility is one of the primary advantages of federal sentencing.
Funchs (2013) examines outrageous sentences imposed on American citizens due to the mandatory minimums. In April 2013, for instance, a forty-six-year-old fast food restaurant operative John Horner received a sentence of twenty-five years for the fault of peddling one thousand eight hundred worth of painkillers. The conviction was rather harsh and did not match the crime. Mr Horner was just one out of the thousands of individuals who have been unfairly sentenced for trivial offences, due to the mandatory minimums. The sentencing guidelines compel judges to give punishments that do not fit the offences despite their wish to show mercy to vulnerable defendants.
Similarly, Telisha Watkins, a thirty-three-year-old woman was sentenced to twenty years in prison in the year 2007, after allegedly organizing a cocaine deal for an elderly neighbour (Funchs, 2013), who was a police spy. The accused thought that only cocaine was involved in the deal, only to realize that there was also crack. As a result, the sentence that was given was three times more severe than the one she would have gotten had she be involved only in the sale of cocaine. The defendant's release was set for 2024 (Funchs, 2013), despite the fact that the one who supplied these drugs to her was released in March of 2008. The mandatory minimum guidelines inhibit appropriate sentences. If the cases had been presented in the federal courts, the punishments would have been less severe since the judges have greater flexibility when it comes to sentencing.
In addition, federal courts have limited choices in terms of dismissals or winning a trial as compared to state courts. State courts give the defendants a chance to present and defend themselves in front of a grand jury, to persuade the panel not to indict them. Most defendants have regained their freedom as a result of this privilege. Nonetheless, the situation in federal courts is entirely different. The presentations are not allowed. There are generally higher possibilities of winning cases, as well as having them dismissed before a trial in state courts.
One of the main reasons why most cases are won or dismissed in state courts is because most of the evidence presented is done by the local police. Due to their lack of adequate training in the field of criminal investigations, the police make mistakes which can be used in favour of the accused. As a result, the majority of the cases are dismissed due to lack of sufficient evidence. In addition, clients who have the ability to pay for the most prominent lawyers are able to win cases since the experience and knowledge of their attorneys in the field surpasses that of state prosecutors.
In addition, most juries, for instance in the state of Dallas, are comprised of county residents who are less oriented and have little experience in the field of justice. As a result, these individuals may make their judgments subjectively, as opposed to professionally, and objectively. It is impossible to win a case in federal courts since prosecutors, who have far more experience and resources required to conduct thorough investigations, are employed. Moreover, many state courts allow the suppression of proof in a vast number of circumstances. However, the federal law sentencing guidelines create no room for evidence suppression. It is highly unlikely for individuals who have been charged in a federal court to win a case. Most of these defendants face harsh penalties that do not match the crime. The chances of being found not guilty, or having the case dismissed, are therefore higher in state courts.
Another core difference between the sentencing guidelines of these two courts is that defendants have fewer alternatives once they are convicted in federal courts when compared to state courts. Suppose an individual had been sentenced to fifteen years in a state court, and another person sentenced to the same number years in a federal court. It is likely for the offender convicted in the state court to be released on parole, after a number of years of his/her sentence. In federal courts, however, parole is not allowed since it has been abolished. Therefore, offenders serve eighty-five per cent of their sentences before being released.
Additionally, defendants who make plea arrangements with the prosecution in state courts know the precise sentence that will be enacted upon pleading guilty. Therefore the perpetrator is able to ponder his/her predicament and weigh the available options before making the decision. Moreover, these individuals are sentenced on the same day that they enter the guilty plea. In federal courts, defenders are forced to plead guilty without knowledge of the sentences that they will receive, in so doing (Lawrence, 2015). In addition, these individuals have to wait for a period of two-three months after pleading guilty, for the sentence to be passed. As a result, individuals spend much more time in confinement than what would be spent in a state court. Moreover, judges in federal courts have the liberty to enforce harsher sentences than the ones stated in the federal court sentencing guidelines. In addition, defendants are given the opportunity to withdraw from guilty pleas at will, especially if the sentence given is harsher than what the lawyer predicted. Nonetheless, an individual who confesses to a crime in a federal court is prohibited from withdrawing from the guilty plea.
Moreover, the courts defer in terms of bail schedule. In state courts, bail is determined by a bail schedule where adults are concerned with crimes that are not life offences. In cases where life felonies are involved, an attorney can set a bond hearing before the judge. Nonetheless, if an individual violates probation, no bond hearing is permissible for any violation (Botnick, 2015). In addition, the office of the State attorney may request an additional bond amount at a magistrates hearing. An increase in the bond may be due to a number of reasons

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