Sentencing in the U.S.

In: Social Issues

Submitted By eblank2008
Words 742
Pages 3
In most Federal Criminal cases, if a person is convicted, the sentence will be determined by using the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The Guidelines were created by the U.S. Congress in the 1980′s. The Guidelines were created with the goal of achieving uniformity in Federal criminal sentences across the United States.

In other words, if you are convicted and sentenced for participating in a Federal drug conspiracy case in the Eastern District of Texas, your sentence should be substantially like that of a similarly situated person in another part of the country.

The Guidelines are formulaic and they operate to calculate a prison term using several criteria. Broadly speaking, these can be broken down into several categories.

1. The nature of the crime

2. The accused person’s criminal history

3. Certain aggravating or mitigating factors that may or may not be present in a particular case.

NATURE OF THE OFFENSE

The place to begin the analysis is the “base offense level”, which may be found in Chapter 2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines Manual. Each particular crime is assigned a base offense level. In drug conspiracy cases for example, the base offense level increases with the amount of drugs for which the accused person is responsible.

CRIMINAL HISTORY

The base offense level is only the first step. In order to properly analyze a likely Guidelines sentence, one must also determine the so called Criminal History Category of the accused. This may be found in Chapter 4 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines. There are several categories of Criminal History. At the bottom, Category I is for persons with no record or little record. Each qualifying conviction earns a set number of points, which in turn corresponds with a particular criminal history category. The more points, the higher the Criminal History Category. The highest…...

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