United States v. Burgos, 276 F.3d 1284 (11th Cir. 2001)
FEDERAL APPEALS COURT TOSSES ILLEGAL SENTENCE
A young mother was convicted of a currency transaction violation and received the maximum guideline sentence (6 months in prison) because she refused to give information regarding her husband. Criminal Defense Attorney Della Fera appealed the sentence. He argued that to base a sentence on a defendant’s exercise of her Fifth Amendment rights, as well as her refusal to cooperate with the Government based on spousal privilege, is unconstitutional. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the client’s sentence was illegally imposed by the sentencing judge. The sentence was overturned and the client ended up serving no jail time. This case is notable as it was highlighted at a national criminal law seminar that year as one of a fraction of cases which will have a positive, long-lasting effect for all criminal defendants in the years to come.