Illegal Sale of a Firearm to a Prohibited Person (18 USC 922(d)(1)(2)) (Count 1) and Illegal Transportation of a Firearm Across State Lines (18 USC 922(g)(1)(2)) (Count 2):
Potential Sentencing Range: Count 1: Maximum Sentence of 10 years; Count 2: Maximum Sentence of Life Imprisonment
WCD Result: 57 months in the Bureau of Prisons
Our client was charged with the Federal Offense of Unlawful Acts. Under these charges, the client was specifically charged with Illegally Selling a firearm to a Prohibited person and possessing an illegal firearm while crossing state lines. The client was accused of selling a firearm to a confidential informant (CI) who was purported to have a felony conviction (Making him a Prohibited Person) and for transporting the gun across state lines (from Michigan to Indiana) for purposes of the sale.
In the federal criminal system, the charge of Unlawful Acts for selling a firearm to a prohibited person is a serious charge that carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in federal prison. The charge of unlawful acts predicated upon bringing an illegal firearm across state lines is also a serious charge that carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in federal prison.
Enhanced penalties were applicable because the charge was predicated upon bringing an illegal firearm across state lines. Specifically, the client was exposed to an enhanced sentence range of a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years to a maximum of life in prison. The client’s extensive criminal background made him eligible for life imprisonment under the Armed Career Criminal Act.
Sentencing parameters are complex and include a calculation under the United States Sentencing Guidelines, based on the offense and the defendant’s criminal background. The Guidelines are advisory, but most judges still sentence within the Guideline range.
Our client’s family hired Wigell Law Group to represent him in this case.
After a complete review of the case facts and our client’s background, negotiations commenced as there was a plethora of evidence, including audio recordings and a video of the actual transaction taking place between the client, his co-defendant and the CI.
Negotiations are delicate, and there is no template approach. With senior attorney Raymond Wigell’s 42+ years of experience, Wigell Law Group was able to properly position the case to resolve it in a manner which exponentially minimized the client’s exposure. Specifically, the negotiations resulted in the Government agreeing to dismiss the Unlawful Acts Charge predicated upon bringing an illegal firearm across state lines, which again, exposed him to an enhanced sentencing range under the Armed Career Criminal Act of a mandatory minimum of 15 years (180 Months) to a maximum sentence of Life in Federal Prison.
The United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) range, according to court filings and calculations, was 77-96 months in prison. The Government, citing the fact of the client’s extensive criminal background, and the seriousness of the offense made strong arguments for a sentence within that range.
But this was not the whole story of our client. At Wigell Law Group, we use 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 have committed an offense, are very important when it comes to federal sentencing.
With multiple and regular meetings with our client at St. Joseph County Jail, the attorneys of Wigell Law Group drafted a detailed sentencing memorandum that explored the client’s life history, including his traumatic childhood abuse, his long history of drug addiction which also tied into his extensive criminal background, his newfound outlook on life, marrying the love of his life and the birth of his first child and his dedication to remaining sober and getting drug treatment.
After hearing all arguments, the federal judge ordered a sentence of 57 months in federal prison, well below the Government’s recommendation of 77 months.
Our client and his family were very grateful that the sentence was 20 months below the maximum end of the range recommended by the Government. Just because a plea agreement states a certain sentencing range that the parties agree to does not mean that proper mitigation and argument can’t change the result to make it more favorable to the client.
Thanks to the extensive negotiations, detailed mitigation work and the holistic defense approach employed, the Wigell Law Group team was able to save our client from a potential life sentence in federal prison.