Federal Sentencing Guidelines Page
The United States Sentencing Commission established the Federal Sentencing Guidelines to alleviate the sentencing disparities that research had revealed. The guidelines were a result of a 1984 bill, which was one of the most dramatic changes to sentencing law and practice in our nation’s history. This act also ensures that sentences are set at the time of sentencing, instead of being set as a maximum or minimum and later determined while the person has already started to serve his or her sentence.
This has allowed for consistent sentencing across the country and more transparency in the sentencing process.
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines were based on significant research. When conducting research to decide on the guidelines, the commission used data drawn from 10,000 presentence investigations.
The guidelines determine sentences based primarily on two factors:
1. The conduct associated with the offense (the offense conduct, which determines the offense level)
2. The defendant’s criminal history (the criminal history category)
There is a table in the guidelines that shows the sentence level based on the two factors. Based on the combination of these factors, the court can then use that to determine a sentence for the defendant.
There are 43 offense levels in the guidelines. In addition, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines discuss criminal history and zones. Criminal history can help determine what penalties may be added to a sentence based on the defendant’s prior convictions. The zones help determine the length of the sentence. There are four zones: A, B, C, D. Moreover, the document discusses other variables in sentencing, such as decreased sentences, increased sentences, and departures. Departures include things such as if there was a death, injury, weapon, or other aggravating factor in connection with the offense. The combination of factors, along with types of offenses, criminal history, and zones, are meant to simplify sentencing, but it can be complex, which is why you need lawyers who know the guidelines inside and out.
At Manasseh, Gill, Knipe & Bélanger, our team of attorneys include successful prosecutors and public defenders. We have decades of experience and have licenses to practice in all three federal district courts in Louisiana, which is rare in this state. In addition, our team has lawyers who have appeared in the Southern District Court of Texas and argued in front of the Federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Our expert law practice is well versed in Federal Sentencing Guidelines. If you live in Baton Rouge and are in need of our expertise, please do not hesitate to contact us today!
To learn more about the guidelines, you can visit the United States Sentencing Commission’s website. You can also use an online calculator to help understand the sentencing terms for different offenses. This is not meant to take the place of legal representation.