Our client was charged with possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance in the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois. He was charged with having a loaded firearm in his home while being a convicted felon and a member of a notorious Chicago street gang, as well as selling approximately 2 kilos of cocaine to various individuals in the Chicago area. Federal agents raided his home and found a loaded Glock handgun and cocaine hidden in his home. Upon finding the firearm and the controlled substance, they arrested him.
In the federal criminal system, the charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance is a serious charge that carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison. But the statute is only one part of the sentencing parameters; a complex calculation is made under the United States Sentencing Guidelines to determine, based on the offense itself and the defendant’s criminal background, what sentencing range is advisable. The Guidelines are advisory, but most judges still sentence within the Guidelines.
Our client hired Wigell Criminal Defense to represent him in this case after a search warrant was executed on his home, but before he was charged with a crime. This is not unusual; many individuals hire Wigell Criminal Defense before they are formally charged as a way of being proactive. As far as strategies go, this is a smart one: it is best to have an experienced attorney involved as soon as possible. Narcotics and guns are a hot-button issue in Chicago, especially under the current presidential administration and the current Attorney General, who has ordered federal prosecutors to file the toughest charges and to seek the highest sentences they can in any narcotics or gun related case. Our client wanted us on board protecting him as soon as possible, and made it happen. He knew waiting would not help him in a case where the federal government was coming after him hard for drugs and guns.
This proved true. Our client had a rap sheet that some would say was a mile long, which was guaranteed to increase the suggested Guideline range. Although a plea
agreement was negotiated, the sentencing range was still very much the subject of argument.
The advised Guideline range, according to calculations in the plea agreement, was 84-105 months in prison, or approximately 7-9 years. A Presentence Investigation Report, which is an independent report prepared by the Probation Office, contained a calculation that the advisory Guideline Range should be 70-87 months.
The Government, citing our client’s lengthy criminal background, his career as a drug dealing gangster, and the amount of the controlled substances sold, made strong arguments for a sentence close to the maximum of the Guideline range.
The Government maintained that our client was irredeemable, a danger to the community, and that the public needed to be protected from him by way of a lengthy prison sentence.
This was not the version of our client that we knew. At Wigell Criminal Defense, we believe in a holistic approach that takes into account the entirety of the person and their life story. A person’s history, characteristics, and an explanation as to why they may have committed an offense, are very important when it comes to federal sentencing.
With multiple and regular meetings with our client, attorneys Raymond Wigell and Huma Rashid drafted a detailed sentencing memorandum that explored the client’s life history, including his tragic childhood filled with abuse and violence, the multiple attempts on his life during his teen years, stifled opportunities for growth and education at every turn, and the violence he faced from the gang he had reluctantly been a part of. We also gathered approximately twenty letters of support from family and friends who were all too happy to talk about the wonderful man they knew, and how there was more to him than a gangster.
After hearing all arguments, the federal judge ordered a sentence of 78 months in federal prison, well below the Government’s request of close to 87 months. With credit for time served, our client has 3 and a half years left to serve, subject to good time credit. He was pleased with the result, knowing he’d soon be back to his family and be able to move forward and start anew.