Sentencing Analysis

When defense attorneys request a sentencing analysis in an effort to assess the potential prison exposure their client may be facing, based on the crime committed and the circumstances surrounding it, coupled with the background factors particular to their client, Rosemary Costa employs her extensive knowledge of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and 3553(a) mitigation factors to prepare a sentencing analysis that looks at all methods that might be available to reduce a term of incarceration, if one is indicated. This can include a compare-and-contrast analysis which provides a variety of scenarios based on the specific factors presented.

Assistance with Plea Negotiations and Trial Preparation

Rosemary assists defense attorneys in negotiating clients’ plea agreements with the U.S. Attorney's Office by reviewing all aspects of the crime; evaluating the client's role in the offense, the client's background, and supporting federal case law relative to the client's case in arriving at the best possible result, i.e. the least amount of prison time, a split-sentence or probation, and stipulated conditions such as restitution, fines, and special conditions of supervision. It is important for defense counsel to know the sentencing exposure so she/he and the client can make an intelligent and thoughtful decision in whether to accept the prosecution's sentencing deal or go to trial.

Costa Consulting assists defense attorneys in preparing case strategies in preparation for trial. Rosemary performs a comprehensive review and assessment of the client's case material and all other discovery and researches and provides an analysis of relevant circuit decisions.

Preparation for the Presentence Interview

In every criminal and misdemeanor case, the court orders a presentence report (“PSR”) to be prepared by the U.S. Probation Department.  PSRs are intended to provide the judge with useful information about the defendant, the offense, and the circumstances surrounding it, and it is instrumental in the judge’s decision about the client’s sentence.  Generally the PSR prepared by the probation officer is prepared from the viewpoint of the government and tends to emphasize the aggravating circumstances of the client’s case rather than a more balanced approach that includes the mitigating circumstances. Oftentimes, due to budget and staffing constraints and a heavy case load, the client’s probation officer has limited time in which to thoroughly investigate and prepare the PSR.

Nevertheless, preparing for the presentence interview with the U.S. Probation Officer is crucial to having the entire presentence investigation and report process go smoothly. It is important that the client is knowledgeable about the presentence process including its purpose, questions to be posed by the probation officer and his/her expectations. The presentence report (“PSR”) prepared by the U.S. Probation Officer is a critical document in the eyes of the court because it provides a wealth of information about the defendant, the offense and its circumstances.

Private Presentence Reports

The independent, private presentence report is one that many criminal defense attorneys view as a crucial component in reducing or eliminating a prison sentence for their clients.

“To the convicted defendant, the sentencing phase is certainly as critical as the guilt-innocence phase.”

William J. Brennan, Jr.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice

The penalties for Federal convictions as set forth by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines impose long, harsh, life-altering sentences.  Between 1987 and 2005, even when judges believed circumstances warranted giving a less severe sentence, it was not possible for them to take into consideration any mitigating factors and depart from imposing mandatory minimum Guideline sentences.  However, in early 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the United States Sentencing Guidelines to be advisory rather than mandatory, thereby opening up a host of potentially mitigating factors judges now have the liberty to consider in imposing sentence.

Rosemary Costa’s 33 years of working within the federal criminal justice system, both as an Administrative Officer at the Federal Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”) and as a Supervisory U.S. Probation Officer, have given her the wealth of hands-on experience and in-depth knowledge necessary for her to operate effectively on behalf of the client, within the confines of complex, frequently changing federal sentencing law, in order to reduce or eliminate a Federal prison sentence.

Rosemary maintains, “There are always mitigating 3553(a) factors – in every case – and the independent PSRs I prepare detail every one of them, providing a true picture of the whole person standing before the sentencing judicial officer – not as a defendant/ criminal but as the unique individual every client is – different from the last defendant and different from the next.

“Being well acquainted with Rosemary Costa as a federal probation officer, I did not hesitate to retain her soon after she went into private practice as a consultant.  We worked together on a very sensitive, high profile case, and Rosemary was invaluable in her assessment of the case for sentencing.  Her years of experience with criminal cases and people facing conviction and sentencing translate into an ability to connect with clients, objectively evaluate cases and present the court with credible information.”

Laurel Headley, Criminal Defense Attorney
Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, LLP, Berkeley, CA

Rosemary Costa conducts a diligent, painstaking, and thorough investigation into all of the factors that have made your client who she/he is today – a human being who, like all of us, is not immune to exercising bad judgment.

Rosemary begins by conducting comprehensive interviews with the client and with the references the client supplies, such as family members, friends, doctors, employer(s), and professional associates – people who are or have been an important part of the client’s life, who know the client well and are willing to share their experiences of that person.

The detailed information Rosemary gathers includes the client’s childhood history and family background, social history, employment and educational history, instances of trauma or abuse, family history of mental illness and substance abuse, medical history and the contribution of chronic and/or debilitating medical conditions, access to healthcare and mental health treatment, undiagnosed mental illness and substance abuse disorders, the affect of a sentence on innocent third parties, learning disorders, criminal history (if any), the conduct of the government, the client’s state of mind at the time of the offense, as well as his/her remorsefulness and acceptance of responsibility for the offense.  Your client’s positive roles in relationships, contributions to the community, current employment, and his/her goals and aspirations for the future are also important. 

Rosemary applies her expertise in analyzing the sum of all of those facts, and incorporates into her PSR sentencing recommendations to the judge, which include (when warranted) alternatives to incarceration.  Such alternatives may include placement in a community corrections facility (“halfway house”) in or near the community in which the client is to be released; probation and community service.  When prison is unavoidable, she may suggest, if appropriate, a split-sentence where the client serves some prison time and some halfway house time. 

If Rosemary’s investigation reveals the client has substantiated substance abuse issues, and if the client is highly likely to be sentenced to a period of incarceration of at least 36 months, her PSR will recommend that the client who qualifies for the BOP’s Residential Drug Abuse Program (“RDAP”) serve his/her sentence in a prison where RDAP is available, thus offering the potential to have up to 12 months reduced from the client’s sentence and the potential to have an additional 6 months of the sentence served at a halfway house. 

Post Sentencing Issues

Particularly for the first-time offender, Rosemary Costa demystifies a bewildering and often frightening high-stakes process.

As a former BOP employee and regional designator, Rosemary knows the rules, regulations, procedures and programs of the federal prison system and will skillfully coach the client who has been sentenced to a period of incarceration in how to prepare for and survive not only the transition into prison but also the daily challenges she/he will experience during incarceration.  In language a “lay person” can understand, Rosemary provides the client with information on the designation process; the security level of the institution of designation; the educational, vocational, and recreational program offerings available at the various institutions; and the classification process.  

Should the incarcerated client require a change in jurisdiction upon release, Rosemary can also assist the client with that process.


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