20 Factors Contributing to Longer Federal Prison Sentences: A Comprehensive Guide

As a crisis manager specializing in preparing white-collar defendants for federal sentencing, I’ve observed many behaviors and factors that often contribute to longer federal prison sentences. Understanding these factors can significantly influence the course of sentencing and even affect post-conviction life. Here’s a list of twenty critical factors to consider:

  1. All About Me: A lack of empathy, remorse, and understanding towards the government’s perspective can adversely affect sentencing, portraying defendants as indifferent to the impacts of their actions.
  2. Lavish Spending: Extravagant expenditures, especially when victims seek restitution, signal a lack of remorse, potentially leading to harsher sentences.
  3. Reluctance to Work A Minimum Wage Job: Failing to build a new record as a law-abiding citizen suggests an inability to earn money lawfully. 
  4. Reliance on Paid Advocates: Over-reliance on paid professionals and avoiding personal involvement in the defense strategy can indicate a lack of personal responsibility and laziness. 
  5. Noncompliance with Court Procedures: Ignoring the Judges or court orders can lead to a longer prison term. 
  6. No Vision For The Future: A failure to articulate a clear plan moving forward, including why the defendant will never return to another courtroom. 
  7. Continued Criminal Activity: Any criminal activity or legal infractions during the pre-sentencing phase suggest a disregard for the law and an unwillingness to reform.
  8. Poor Representation: Ineffective legal representation can result in harsher sentences.
  9. No Support Network: A lack of a support network can result in longer sentences due to the perceived potential for reoffending.
  10. Prior Criminal Record: This seems pretty obvious. 
  11. Resistance to Cooperation: An unwillingness to cooperate with authorities can lead to a longer prison term. 
  12. Lack of Substance Abuse Treatment: Defendants who do not pursue treatment for substance abuse issues may receive longer sentences.
  13. Disrespectful Attitude: Displaying rudely towards authorities, victims, or the court can lead to longer sentences.
  14. No Evidence of Rehabilitation Efforts: Lack of evidence showing efforts towards rehabilitation can lead to lengthier federal prison sentences.
  15. Misleading on the Probation Report Financial Forms: Providing inaccurate information to the probation officer can lead to a loss of trust and stricter sentences (I know from experience!)
  16. Lose At Trial: Trial tax is real and losing leads to longer federal prison sentences.
  17. The severity of the Offense, Including The Loss Amount: The nature and severity of the crime committed play a substantial role in sentencing.
  18. Victims Want Justice: Negative perceptions by victims can influence the court’s view on the defendant’s potential for rehabilitation.
  19. Didn’t Prepare For Probation Interview: Lack of preparation for PSR leads to a higher prison recommendation from the probation officer. 
  20. Insufficient Mitigating Circumstances: Lack of significant mitigating circumstances can also contribute to longer federal prison sentences. 

By understanding these factors, defendants can contribute significantly to their defense strategy, possibly mitigate the severity of their sentencing, and prepare more effectively for life post-conviction.

Justin Paperny