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Snowballing federal efforts target sentencing adjustments

One practice area in which we devote a significant amount of energy and acumen to at the criminal defense firm of Hindman & Lanzon in Knoxville is federal crime representation.

That legal realm is unique and flatly differentiated from other areas of law. We note on our website that, "One of the hallmarks of federal criminal cases is that the federal prosecutors will put a great deal of investigation and effort into building their cases." On top of that, federal criminal charges "come with the potential of severe consequences."

That has long been true with federal cases, where prosecutorial assists like sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimum terms for select offenses give the government great powers while simultaneously limiting judges' discretion in many cases.

Such federal-based realities have invoked sharp and growing criticism in recent years, and among an increasingly broad-based band of critics. These days, in fact, it is routine to see new draft legislation commanding wide bipartisan support being rolled out in Washington, D.C., that demands notable sentencing reforms.

Such is the case with three bills focused upon federal sentencing reforms recently introduced in the U.S. Senate. Although each of them differs in the details, they uniformly proceed from a similar assumption.

And that is this: Current sentencing practices and outcomes far too often yield unfair results, bring prison overcrowding, yield a high recidivism rate, overly burden the nation's taxpayers, and spawn additional negative consequences.

Seasoned defense attorneys won't argue with that, knowing it to be true, especially for many nonviolent drug offenders who commit arguably minor crimes and come before federal judges with no prior criminal record.

Increasingly, prominent politicians on both sides of the political aisle are joining voices in agreement that serious changes need to be made to render the criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient. The above-cited bills directly note their concerns and make demands for material changes.

We will spotlight the central points in the new bills for readers once their drafts are tweaked -- as they certainly will be -- and move forward in the process toward legal enactment.

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