Why Todd & Julie Chrisley Received 12 & 7-Year Prison Sentences for Tax Fraud, Attorney Explains (Exclusive)

Todd and Julie Chrisley have a 'low chance' of winning an appeal, an attorney says. Find out why.

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Todd Chrisley, 53, is getting prepared to serve 12 years in federal prison after being convicted of tax fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion, while his Chrisley Know Best reality star wife, Julie, 49, has been sentenced to serve only 7 years behind bars. After being delivered their sentences in a federal court in Georgia on Nov. 13, lawyers for the proud parents of Lindsie, 33, Kyle, 31, Savannah, 25, Chase, 26, Grayson, 16, and adopted daughter, Chloe, 10, have stated that they intend to appeal.

Todd Chrisley Julie Chrisley
Todd and Julie Chrisley looked stunning at the 52nd ACM Awards in Las Vegas, Nevada, on April 2, 2017. (Shutterstock)

Although their prison location and whether they will get to serve staggered sentences is still unknown, Todd and Julie are reportedly set to begin their combined 19-year jail term on Jan. 15, 2023, according to FoxNews5 in Atlanta, Georgia. So, what happens if they appeal? Will they still have to enter prison, or will they get to remain free until the appeal process is complete? Why has Todd gotten sentenced to 5 more years than his wife if they were both convicted of acting together in their $30 million tax fraud scheme? HollywoodLife spoke EXCLUSIVELY to Los Angeles-based attorney Alphonse Provinziano of Provinziano & Associates who answered all of these questions, and more.

Todd Chrisley Julie Chrisley
Todd and Julie Chrisley were affectionate on the red carpet at the NBC Summer 2014 TCA, which took place in Beverly Hills, California. (Shutterstock)

Read below to find out what he had to say.

HollywoodLife: Why did Todd and Julie get such heavy sentences?

Attorney Provinziano: Federal judges generally issue their sentences based on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which primarily consider the severity of the criminal conduct and the defendant’s criminal history. According to the sentencing guidelines, the Chrisleys could have faced even more time in prison if the judge had chosen to sentence them on the higher end of the guidelines.

HollywoodLife: Why was Julie sentenced to 7 years less than Todd?

Attorney Provinziano: Sentencing takes into account various factors, including who the primary offender was. It seems that Todd’s involvement in the couple’s financial activities must have been more profound than Julie’s. Not only was Todd’s sentence longer, but the recommendations of both the prosecution and the defendant’s lawyers would have had Todd serving a longer sentence if they were adopted by the judge.

HollywoodLife: What was the maximum sentence that they could have received?

Attorney Provinziano: In a sentencing memo, prosecutors said Todd could serve more than 21 years in prison and Julie could serve more than 12 years based on sentencing guidelines. Of course, the judge has some discretion in ordering a sentence either greater or lesser (as she ultimately did) than the higher end of the sentencing guidelines.

HollywoodLife: Did the fact that they did not take accountability have an impact on their sentence?

Attorney Provinziano: It would be typical for a judge to consider factors such as whether a defendant demonstrated accountability or remorse for their actions. If they did not then, yes, then that may have very well come into play.

HollywoodLife: Will they have to serve their full sentences? If not, what is the minimum?

Attorney Provinziano: They may not have to serve their entire sentence, because federal law allows for a reduction in a prisoner’s sentence for good behavior. But based on current federal law and Bureau of Prisons regulations, they will still have to serve a minimum of approximately 85 percent of their sentence.

HollywoodLife: Can you describe what will happen if they appeal? What are the chances of this being overturned?

Attorney Provinziano: Most appeals are unsuccessful, and there is a relatively high standard to win on an appeal in a criminal case. Some potential grounds for appeal include legal error, juror misconduct, and ineffective assistance of counsel. It does seem that the prosecution in this case presented substantial evidence to support the criminal conviction, so I would say that there is a fairly low chance of the decision being overturned.

HollywoodLife: Will they still have to go to prison on the same date if they do appeal?

Attorney Provinziano: In some cases, a federal judge could allow a defendant to post bail and remain out of prison while their appeal is pending. Generally, the judge will consider whether the defendant is a danger or a flight risk and what the chances are that the appeal will be successful.

HollywoodLife: Do you think they will serve staggered sentences?

Attorney Provinziano: A court is allowed to offer leniency when sentencing and the judge, in this case, may or may not have considered the fact that Todd and Julie have children to care for. In some cases, a judge will allow co-defendants with children to serve staggered sentences, so that one parent is able to continue to care for the children while the other is serving their sentence.

HollywoodLife: What if they are not granted staggered sentences?

Attorney Provinziano: If both parents are required to serve their sentences concurrently then they will have to make alternative custodial arrangements for their children, such as guardianship with a family member or close friend. If no arrangements are made for the children, then the child welfare system could get involved and the children could be placed in foster care. If the Chrisleys are forced to serve sentences at the same time, Savannah Chrisley may come in to take custody of her siblings.

HollywoodLife: What type of prison facility will they be put in?

Attorney Provinziano: Due to the non-violent nature of their crimes, and their lack of prior criminal history, Todd and Julie could very well end up at a minimum-security prison, often referred to as “camps”. While serving a sentence at a minimum-security prison is far less severe than in a higher-security prison, it is still a prison and is no walk in the park.