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“I was wrongly convicted of murder. I spent nearly 17 years in prison fighting my case. When I finally won a new trial, I chose Greg Robey to be a part of my defense team. He found an FBI agent who had worked on the case in the 1980s, along with critical pieces of evidence that we thought were long lost. After a long and very hard-fought trial, I was found Not Guilty of all charges. I owe my freedom to Greg Robey and my defense team.” -R.R., Ravenna, Ohio

National Panel Reviewing Penalties for Economic Crime

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, a federal panel that determines sentencing policies for various types of crimes, recently announced that it is considering changing some guidelines for white collar crime sentences.

The Sentencing Commission already amended its guidelines for drug crimes earlier this year, and now will focus on working with congress to reduce the severity and scope of mandatory minimum penalties and to evaluate the fairness of existing sentencing rules for economic crimes. The panel will talk with congress about sentences for fraud, embezzlement and more.

The panel will also work with judges, victims and more to evaluate the guidelines for sentencing for economic crimes to determine whether there are ways these guidelines could better serve the legal community. Many defense lawyers have been seeking these changes for years and will now have a chance to give their input. They believe that after the commission softened many of the guidelines governing drug cases, the time is ripe for similar amendments to be made in the area of white collar crime.

There are some comparisons that can be made between the two types of crime in terms of how defendants are sentenced. Drug sentences are often determined by the amount and type of drugs involved, and financial crime sentences often hinge on the amount of money stolen. Criminal defense attorneys believe that financial crime sentences should be scaled in the same way drug crime sentences are under the new guidelines.

At this point, it’s difficult to determine the end result of this evaluation. There is still significant public resentment toward some high-profile fraud cases in recent years, and people have not forgotten the damage inflicted during the 2008 economic crisis. However, prisons have become costly and overcrowded, which has led the federal government to re-evaluate the way it deals with sentencing in cases and which types of cases are considered more severe.

If you have questions about defense issues and possible sentences for financial crimes, consult a Cleveland white collar criminal defense lawyer.

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