Latest Installment of Federal Appeals Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi’s U.S.S.G. Awareness Campaign Looks at Pepper v. United States 131 S. Ct. 1229

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In the 17th and latest installment in his U.S.S.G. awareness campaign, Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi looks at Pepper v. United States 131 S. Ct. 1229, in which the Supreme Court held the District Court may, at resentencing, take into consideration evidence of a defendant’s rehabilitation for the purposes of granting a sentence that is a downward departure from the Guidelines range.

Federal Appeals Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi Focuses on Pepper v. United States in U.S.S.G. Awareness Campaign

Federal Appeals Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi Focuses on Pepper v. United States in U.S.S.G. Awareness Campaign

The Supreme Court highlighted three essential factors that led to its opinion.

Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi is focusing Pepper v. United States 131 S. Ct. 1229 in his latest look at key cases that have shaped and influenced current United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.). In the case, the Supreme Court affirmed that District Court may, at resentencing, take into consideration evidence of a defendant’s rehabilitation for the purposes of granting a sentence that is a downward departure from the Guidelines range.

In 2003, the defendant and petitioner Pepper pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute more than 500 grams of methamphetamine. The Government, in light of what it deemed as Pepper’s significant help in the case, called for a 15% downward departure from the applicable United States Sentencing Guidelines range. The District Court, however, sentenced Pepper to a 75% downward departure -- an amount that provoked the Government to file an appeal.

At Pepper’s resentencing hearing in 2006, he was in the process of serving his term of supervised release. He had also undergone successful drug rehabilitation, enrolled in college, and was working part-time. In light of these positive factors, the District Court resentenced Pepper to a 40% downward departure from the bottom of the Guidelines range, plus an additional 59% downward departure given his post-conviction rehabilitation. As a result, his sentence was reduced to 24 months, with the trial judge stating that there was no practical purpose in sending Pepper back to prison.    

The Government appealed again, this time successfully. The Eight Circuit subsequently sentenced Pepper to 65 months in prison, noting that the District Court erred when it took into consideration any post-sentencing rehabilitation factors for the purposes of granting a downward departure from the Guidelines range. Pepper appealed to the Supreme Court, which in 2011 reversed the decision and re-affirmed the 2006 resentencing of 24 months.

“The Supreme Court highlighted three essential factors that led to its opinion,” commented Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi, whose practice is based in New York City’s Times Square. “The first is that it’s appropriate for trial judges to factor in as much information as possible with respect to a defendant’s personal life, lifestyle and other details that may not necessarily be germane to the crime or crimes in question, but may certainly be relevant to sentencing and resentencing issues. The second is that, as affirmed in United States v. Booker, Guidelines sentences are fundamentally advisory and not inevitably automatic. With that being said, naturally, movement in either direction – especially significant deviations -- must pass the test of reasonableness, and must not violate a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights. The third is that there’s no reason to believe that Congress intended for District Courts to disregard post-conviction rehabilitation factors at resentencing.”

Mr. Preziosi’s full analysis of Pepper v. United States 131 S. Ct. 1229 is available on his firm’s website at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com/re-sentencing-and-post-sentence-rehabilitation/

For more information or media inquiries, email newyorkappellatelawyer(at)gmail(dot)com or phone (212) 300-3845.

About the Appellate Law Office of Stephen N. Preziosi, P.C.

Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi handles criminal appeals in all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and in New York State Appellate Courts (including Appellate Divisions and the New York Court of Appeals). Whether a case is under the Penal Law in New York State Courts or under Federal Law in the U.S. District Courts, Mr. Preziosi has extensive experience with all types of appellate matters in both the New York State Courts and the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Mr. Preziosi has pursued appellate cases in the Appellate Divisions, the Appellate

Terms and the highest court in the State of New York, the New York Court of Appeals. He has also taken on cases in the various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and successfully identified legal issues, designed and written briefs and conducted oral argument. The firm’s practice is concentrated in the area of appeals in criminal matters in both State and Federal Courts, and Mr. Preziosi recently launched a United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) awareness campaign to help the general public learn more about this critically important and influential aspect of criminal law.

Learn more at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com.

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