Federal Appeals Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi’s Federal Sentencing Guidelines Awareness Campaign Looks at Rita v. United States

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New York City-based federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi’s Federal Sentencing Guidelines Awareness Campaign continues with a look at Rita v. United States, which explored whether or not a within guidelines sentence is presumptively reasonable, and whether or not the Sentencing Court must analyze relevant sentencing factors.

The Appellate Law Office of Stephen N. Preziosi, P.C.

New York Appellate Lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi Focuses on Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Rita v. United States is a very influential case in the history of United States Sentencing Guidelines.

In the second installment of his Federal Sentencing Guidelines Awareness Campaign, federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi, principal of the Appellate Law Office of Stephen N. Preziosi, P.C., is focusing on Rita v. United States 551 U.S. 338 (2007).

“Rita v. United States is a very influential case in the history of United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.),” commented Mr. Preziosi. “It established two key holdings that influenced all subsequent cases: first, the Court of Appeals may apply a presumption of reasonableness to a within-guidelines sentence, and secondly, the Sentencing Court cannot presume the within guidelines sentence is reasonable, and must follow a process in open court to determine the appropriate sentence.

In Rita v. United States, the defendant was convicted of perjury, and sentenced to 33 months in prison. Under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) the sentencing court was unable to conclude that the sentencing guideline range was inappropriate.

The Supreme Court determined that the Court of Appeal may apply a presumption of reasonableness to a within guidelines sentence, because the Court of Appeals presumption reflects the fact that, by the time an appeals court is considering a within-Guidelines sentence on review, both the sentencing judge and the Sentencing Commission will have reached the same conclusion as to the proper sentence in the particular case. The explanation in the Booker case (543 U.S. 220 (2005)) was that the appellate “reasonableness” review merely asks whether the trial court abused its discretion.

However, the Supreme Court concluded that, unlike the Court of Appeal, the Sentencing Court cannot apply a presumption of reasonableness to a within guidelines sentence, and therefore must follow a standard process in open court to determine the appropriate sentence.

“With respect to its finding that the Courts Of Appeals may apply a presumption of reasonableness to a within guidelines sentence, the Supreme Court affirmed the basic sentencing objectives established by Congress and set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a),” commented Mr. Preziosi. “Those objectives instruct the sentencing judge to factor in a variety of criteria when imposing a sufficient sentence that comply with the basic aims of sentencing, which include: the nature of the offense and the offender; the need to satisfy basic sentencing aims; the legally-available sentences; the Sentencing Guidelines; policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission; avoiding unjustified disparities; and restitution.”

Added Mr. Preziosi: “And with respect to its finding that the Sentencing Court cannot presume a within guidelines sentence to be reasonable, the Supreme Court reminded the Sentencing Court that that it must abide by § 3553(c), which demands that judges declare, in open court, the reasons for imposing a sentence at the time of sentencing. This ruling is vital because it prevents even the perception of unfairness, which if allowed to emerge, would undermine the fundamental trust that must exist in our justice system between the public and the courts.”

Mr. Preziosi’s full analysis of Rita v. United States is available on his firm’s website at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com/rita-v-unites-states-the-sentencing-guidelines-and-presumption-of-reasonableness-of-within-guidelines-sentences/.

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 Federal Sentencing Guidelines 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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