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Federal Sentencing Guidelines for White Collar Crimes

Once you discover that you may be subject to a federal investigation of a white collar crime, you will probably want to learn everything there is to know about the allegations that may be brought against you, particularly with regard to the potential consequences of a conviction. If federal prosecutors have already indicted you, information about your situation will be more critical now than ever. As you begin to read through these sentencing guidelines, however, it is important to note that these guidelines will only be relevant if you are actually convicted of a federal crime. At Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm, our Baton Rouge white collar criminal defense attorneys will help you understand everything there is to know about your legal situation right from the beginning.

Base Offense Level for Federal White Collar Crimes

Regardless of the particulars at play in the case, most federal white collar criminal offenses will be considered to have a base offense level of at least six (6) or seven (7). As described in §2B1.1 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual, the base offense level for a white collar crime will be seven (7) if both of the following conditions are met:

  • The individual has been convicted of an offense listed under this section of the guidelines; and
  • The statutory maximum prison term for that offense is 20 or more years.

Once the base offense level has been determined, the court will then consider other aspects of the defendant’s case to determine the final offense level that will be applied to the more general sentencing guidelines for federal crimes, as defined by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC).

Amount of Loss May Increase Offense Level

Prison terms that are suggested under federal guidelines are primarily determined by the dollar amount of loss. With that in mind, the court will elevate the offense level to reflect the highest degree of loss as listed below:

  • $5,000 or less—there is no increase in level
  • Greater than $5,000—increase by 2
  • Greater than $10,000—increase by 4
  • Greater than $30,000—increase by 6
  • Greater than $70,000—increase by 8
  • Greater than $120,000—increase by 10
  • Greater than $200,000—increase by 12
  • Greater than $400,000—increase by 14
  • Greater than $1,000,000—increase by 16
  • Greater than 2,500,000—increase by 18
  • Greater than 7,000,000—increase by 20
  • Greater than 20,000,000—increase by 22
  • Greater than $50,000,000—increase by 24
  • Greater than $100,000,000—increase by 26
  • Greater than $200,000,000—increase by 28
  • Greater than $400,000,000—increase by 30

However, it should be noted that the court will consider “loss” to be the total amount of money that could have potentially been lost, rather than what was actually lost or gained by a defendant.

Number of Victims May Increase Offense Level

For the time being, the court may elevate the offense level based on the number of people that are found to have been victimized by a defendant according to the following guidelines:

  • 10 or more victims—increase by 2
  • 50 or more victims—increase by 4
  • 250 or more victims—increase by 6

Though the dollar amount of loss and the number of victims will be the primary drivers in these considerations, there are a number of other additional factors that may potentially influence the final offense level assigned to the crime. If you would like a more comprehensive understanding of your case, our Baton Rouge legal team would be happy to speak with you directly.

Using the Federal Sentencing Table

Once everything about a given case has been taken into consideration, the court will apply the final offense level and any prior criminal history to the USSC’s Sentencing Table to arrive at the suggested prison term for the offense. Depending upon the exact circumstances of a case, life prison sentences may be advised under federal sentencing guidelines. For the most minor of white collar crimes, the guidelines may suggest no prison sentence at all.

Mandatory Minimum Sentences for White Collar Crime

Some white collar criminal offenses are punishable by mandatory minimum prison sentences that must be served by defendants, regardless of the particulars in the case. Since you will not be able to avoid prison time if you are convicted of an offense that carries a mandatory minimum, it will be critical that you do everything you possibly can to protect yourself as early on in the legal process as you can.

Consult with a White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney in Baton Rouge

Even if you have only been contacted by a federal agency that is responsible for investigating white collar criminal offenses, you should consult with one of the Baton Rouge white collar criminal defense attorneys at Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm about what further precautions you should take to protect yourself from here on out. To speak with one of our Baton Rouge attorneys about the particulars of your situation, please call our offices in Baton Rouge at (225) 650-7400 today.

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Baton Rouge, LA 70802
Phone: (225) 650-7400
Fax: (225) 650-7401

Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm
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New Roads, LA 70760
Phone: (225) 638-3276
Fax: (225) 638-8319

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