The sentencing is a hugely important part of the process. If you get to that point, there are a lot of things that a lawyer can do to make the sentence have the least impact upon you. What we do a lot is get an expert to evaluate our client and we ask them to do extensive testing on him or her in order to make a determination if a client is attracted to children sexually; a huge concern for judges is to whether or not a client is a pedophile. So we have clients that participate in many hours of testing and we’ve had very good success with that because if we can show a judge that our client is not a pedophile and that they will not pose a future risk to any actual child that is of huge importance to judges.
More often than not, judges will take that into account and lower a potential sentence because of that. We also have, as part and parcel of that testing, the expert that we obtained to do what’s called a risk assessment. There are several risk assessment tools that can be used to predict the likelihood of future misconduct. For example, for one client I had recently, we were able to show that the risk assessment score predicted that there was less than a 3% chance that that person would ever commit another sex offense, which was a big part of the judge’s decision to give that person a drastically reduced sentence than what they could have given. So that’s a huge piece of potential sentencing advocacy that we routinely do.
We also do extensive research into our client’s background and try and get as many character references as possible, including people who know our client from all walks of life, whether professionally, family, or friends. We found that is really helpful with judges in obtaining lower sentence because they can see that these are people who know what the person is charged with and know that they are being sentenced for it, yet they still think this client is a good person. He is not someone who is going to be back before you on another charge. I can vouch for him. So those are just some of the ways that we advocate strongly for our clients with sentencing.
We also closely scrutinize and challenge many aspects of what’s called the pre-sentence report. A probation officer prepares it and expects part of that report contains what’s called an advisory sentencing guideline calculation. That is a probation officer’s way of saying to a judge, listen this is what we believe the guideline is. It’s supposed to be an objective view of guidelines because the prosecutor is going to have a view what the guideline range is. We’re going to a view what the guideline range is and we can to object to any enhancement that we don’t believe applies in our client’s case and would adversely affect the guideline range. We provide case law and written challenges to the probation officer’s position and have been successful in getting a punishment changed.
As mentioned before, a risk assessment is part of an expert’s evaluation of a client. They do an extensive amount, up to about 20 to 25 hours of testing on each client. There are various standardized tests that are used to gather information about the client. The results from those tests can be plugged into a risk assessment- tools that a psychologist and other mental health professionals use as predictors of future behavior. They have been validated through studies and different risk assessments have different factors that they use. A positive score on a risk assessment allows us to say to a judge we have a validated test score that shows that our client is not someone who is a high risk of re-offending engaging in any sort of activity that would harm a child.
David Benowitz and his firm are the best strategic and compassionate teams you will work with. Mr. Benowitz and his team are diligent and proactive, which is further enhanced by David’s methodic and strategic approach to law. My case was a very complicated and emotionally charged case involving classified information, where I was facing three indictments, two carrying life sentences and one carrying 20 years. Mr. Benowitz utilized a network of lawyers coupled with his own strategy to navigate the case to success! I sincerely recommend David Benowitz quite literally with my life.
I found David to be very dedicated to fighting for your loved one’s rights. I also highly appreciated the fact that David kept us informed and empowered throughout the whole process.
Mr. Benowitz is an incredibly knowledgeable and dedicated professional. His commitments to social justice and community outreach are exemplary. I wholeheartedly recommend him for any matter.