I received a phone call this afternoon from a woman who’s son was sentenced to a year and a day in prison. Now look, a year and a day in prison is a long time. One day in prison is a long time, but relative to what a lot of good people receive, it’s a relatively short sentence. She was very distraught, of course.

A few minutes into our conversation, I learned that part of the reason she was so distraught was because she was lead to believe that her son was going to get a sentence of federal probation. I said, “Where did you get that idea from?” She said,” Well, my son guaranteed me. He assured me that I was going to get probation.” One of his co-conspirators got probation. Further, his lawyer told him based on his twenty plus year career, probation or home confinement or house arrest or something like that was likely. Of course, the judge came down with a year and a day sentence. I asked her if she knew what the probation officer requested in the pre-sentence report. She didn’t know.

Here’s my advice to you. Condition your family for the worst case scenario. I’m very hard on myself. I did a lot of things wrong while traveling the criminal justice system, but one thing that I did well was condition my family for the worst possible outcome. I plead guilty to one count of conspiracy with a cap of sixty months. I conditioned my family with the idea that I was going to get sixty months. The day that I got sentenced to eighteen months, we felt like we had won the lottery. It’s was not as tragic a day as it could have been. In many ways, my parents felt as if I had gained three and half years of freedom. It doesn’t change that when I got sentenced, I looked over in the front row and I saw my mom there, who was in a daze. It doesn’t remove the trauma of the experience, but it was easier because my family kept saying, “Wow! You didn’t get five years.”

I’m not encouraging you to go crazy and lie. If you plead guilty to a count of wire fraud, yes there is a statutory maximum of twenty years, but your pre-sentence report might give a range of forty-one to fifty-one months. I’m not saying condition them to think you’re going to get two decades and then you get eighteen months. I think it’s wise for your family’s sake to error towards the higher end of the range, to condition them to get the worst possible number, so if it comes in lower, it makes that sentencing day a little bit more bearable.


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