Sentencing Issues for Federal White Collar Crime Cases

The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit recently issued a very lengthy opinion that covers a variety of sentencing issues we see quite often in federal white collar cases. Although this case came out of the appellate court that covers Denver, we see similar issues in cases here in Atlanta, the rest of Georgia, as well as in Alabama and Florida.

The case out in Denver involved charges of fraud against some bankers. They were convicted, and on appeal both the defendants and the prosecutors argued that the trial judge made mistakes when imposing the sentences.

The main sentencing issue on appeal involved the question of “loss” under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. I have written at length on the Guidelines in other posts. The “loss” calculation is especially tricky. The defendants in the Denver case, through their very able lawyers, made the rather sensical argument that what they got out of the crime is the same as the “loss.” Unfortunately, a lot of lawyers who do not get into federal court all that often mistakenly believe that this is the law. It is not. The concept of “loss” under the Sentencing Guidelines is far greater than what a person gets. It also covers “intended loss”, along with losses caused by other people who did the same thing.

The court in the Denver case sent it back for a new sentencing hearing. The defendants’ attorneys did a good job for their clients the first time. They will have a rougher road the second time around.