White-collar crime holds serious consequences in the United States. If you face federal charges for white-collar crimes, you may have heard that defendants often receive reduced sentences. This is a common misconception that white-collar offenders have it easy in the criminal justice system. 

According to Forbes, the lighter sentences are an illusion. The answer to the question: do white-collar defendants have lighter sentences may be more complex than you originally thought. 

Do offenders receive reduced sentences? 

There is a misconception that those charged with white-collar crimes face reduced sentences. Technically, in some cases, this can be true. The problem with asking whether a defendant receives a reduced sentence is that it ignores the sentencing guidelines in place. It does not address whether the guidelines are too harsh. 

Are the guidelines the problem? 

When you look at the federal sentencing guidelines compared to the sentencing, it may look as though the defendant received a better deal. The truth is, however, that the guidelines are much harsher when compared to the crime itself. 

When charged with a white-collar crime, there is a point system based on the dollar amount involved, number of victims and how sophisticated the crime is. This calculation can influence the sentencing. Often, you may see a defendant receive a lesser sentence than the calculation gave. Cases in the past involving the FSG would put defendants in prison for 125 years. Most would see this as overkill. When a defendant faces 10 years instead, it may be a significantly lower sentence but you could argue that 125 years is over the top.