REDUCED FEDERAL SENTENCE ACHIEVED IN CASE BASED ON MENTAL HEALTH
May 12, 2018
The Law Office of Ali Najmi successfully advocated for a reduced sentence for its client in a federal criminal prosecution for identity theft and access device fraud in the Southern District of New York. The reduced sentence was achieved by highlighting the client’s diagnosis and struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from years of physical abuse as a child and lack of treatment and medication.
The recommended sentence from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines was 51-57 months of incarceration, and was the sentence that the United States Attorneys Office was seeking.
However, The Law Office of Ali Najmi successfully argued for a reduced sentence pursuant to the factors articulated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), specifically that the client’s mental health history and need for treatment called for a sentence no greater than necessary and that an excessive sentence would lead to significant psychological deterioration and a sharp decline in social, psychological and emotional advancement.
Mr. Najmi’s client was sentenced to only 36 months and three years of post release supervision.
Through the use of mental health experts and the submission of a lengthy psycho-social analysis, Mr. Najmi was able to demonstrate that the client experienced significant childhood trauma that has interfered with his decision-making capabilities and has resulted in impulse control issues as well as antisocial responses to stressors that are an adaptation to trauma and a PTSD reaction.
Histories of childhood physical assaults are associated with psychiatric problems in adolescence, which persist into adulthood. Long-term abuse and neglect have more pervasive effects than single incident traumas and result in a spectrum of biological, emotional and cognitive abnormalities which can manifest in a multitude of psychological, somatic and behavioral problems, ranging from learning disabilities to aggressions against self and others. For Mr. Najmi’s client this has manifested in his inability to control his impulses, poor distress tolerance and lack of ability to effectively make decisions and solve problems.
Courts have willingly issued sentences less than the guideline sentence to defendants with mental health diagnoses. For example, in US v. Lawrence, 254 F.Supp.3d 441 (E.D.N.Y 2017) the court highlighted that they must take into account “the fact that a long-term prison term increases danger to the prisoner while he is in prison” because the prisoner might require treatment that is not available to the same extent in prison as while under supervised release in the community.