Downward Departure in Federal Sentencing


If you’ve been convicted of a federal crime, the judge passing sentence on your case must calculate and consider the federal sentence guidelines established by the United States Sentencing Commission. Without proper legal representation from a criminal defense lawyer who has experience in the federal system and is experienced in objecting to presentence investigation reports and knowledgeable about the arguments used to justify downward departures, you may serve more time than you have to. With over forty years working in the federal and state criminal justice systems, criminal defense attorney Charles B. Lembcke, P.A. has a proven track record of success when it comes to downward departure in sentencing. Call the Duval County Law Offices of Charles B. Lembcke, P.A. to discuss reducing points from your conviction.

Federal Sentencing Guidelines and Downward Departures

When you are convicted of a crime in a federal court, the offense or offenses for which you have been found guilty will have a numeric score that is based on the federal sentencing guidelines. The higher the number, the higher the proposed sentence. There are, however, rules for upward and downward departures that allow the judge to increase or reduce the numeric score. Downward departures fall into two categories:

  • Substantial Assistance (USSG §5K1.1.) – This involves the sharing of information and testifying about crimes that involve others with the Federal Government. In other words, you cooperate with law enforcement investigations to get a reduction in your sentence.
  • Specified and Unspecified Factors (USSG §5K2.0.) – There are numerous reasons why the federal court may authorize a downward departure under this section. Some of the more common ones include:
  • The guidelines overstate the seriousness of the defendant’s crime
  • Lack of past criminal conduct
  • Age of the defendant
  • Contributing behavior of the victim
  • The defendant’s mental or emotional condition
  • The defendant’s past service to his or her country (military record)
  • The effect that the sentence would have on innocent members of the defendant’s family
  • Anything that contributes to the totality of circumstances
  • Criminal Defense Lawyer of North FL*

The success of a petition for a downward departure and a sentence lower than suggested by the federal guidelines depends on a number of factors, not the least of which are the character of the judge, the venue in which the case is heard, and the impact of the victims or their family members. Not all criminal defense lawyers are familiar with the types of arguments that are liable to compel the courts to grant a downward departure and impose a sentence below the federal guidelines. For over four decades, criminal defense attorney Charles B. Lembcke has been fighting for the rights of men in Florida. To schedule an appointment with one of northern Florida’s top criminal defense and sentence reduction lawyers, call the Jacksonville Law Offices of Charles Lembcke, P.A. at (904) 355-5467.


Charles B. Lembcke has been recognized as one of the Best Lawyers in America in the area of white collar criminal defense.

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Our Office:

8550 Cathedral Oaks Place West      Jacksonville, FL 32217

Phone: (904) 355-5467