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How Do The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Work?

November 2, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

For the prosecutors to make a sensible judgment on any case they preside on, they must follow specific guidelines. Such guidelines ensure a fair verdict whenever there is a case.


Mostly, the judgment can be severe on the defendant and favorable at times. What determines the level of the harshness are the Federal Sentencing guidelines. Read on for a better understanding of how Federal Sentencing Guidelines work.


In the past, judges were subject to some different guidelines from the federal ones. Unfortunately, they could not go beyond them when making their decisions regarding a case. They used to calculate and ensure that their decisions fell within the limit.


Fortunately, ten years ago, the Supreme Court decided that the guidelines were unnecessary because they limited the judges’ decisions. The judges were left with little room to exercise their jurisdiction.


Today, the judges can comfortably make decisions (Severe or less severe) by either going above or below the law. Such guidelines are effective to the defendant because they help in determining how harsh the judgment should be.
The federal sentencing Guidelines help to establish an offense level. The offense level intends to determine the level of seriousness of the offense committed. It also considers the criminal’s past offense history record. The historical record helps decide how frequently the offender has been in criminal offenses.


However, besides other considerations, the essential thing is the seriousness of the offense. If the crime committed is too severe, the defendant’s chances of getting a fair verdict are minimal compared to a less intense/harmful violation that cannot command a harsh verdict. The defendant’s criminal history also plays a significant role in determining the kind of judgment delivered. Here is how it works.


· Base Offense level


Each crime always has a starting point. According to federal guidelines, the base level is the starting point of each offense. The seriousness of the crime determines the base level. For instance, when robbers steal $40 Million from a bank, and other robbers also steal $10 Million from another bank, those who stole $40 Million will face a serious base level.


· Specific Nature of the offense


The base level is determined by several hidden factors that you may not know unless you understand law concepts. You can only understand them better through your attorney if you have the right one. Using the above instance, if the robbers had other crude weapons at the time of the act, the offense will increase in levels. Assuming it was at level one, it will grow to level two because of the weapons.


· Accommodates adjustments


As the cases progress, the judge can make other considerations. For instance, the court may want to figure out the role the offenders played in the crime and other victim-related adjustments. Such considerations help the court in determining the kind of treatment to give the case.


What happens when the defendant is guilty?


According to federal guidelines, the offense levels can reduce to either two or three if the judge figures out that the defendant has accepted offense responsibility. That is a scenario that may not occur in other countries’ courtrooms.


Impacts of Federal sentencing guidelines


The advantage of the policies is that they create room for reducing sentencing variances during sentencing. They also make reasonable level ground for delivering judgment. When the judges stick to the guidelines, the defendant’s or victim’s rights violation will be minimal.


The guidelines also make it possible to know who should be in prison under harsh treatment and who should not. For instance, defendants who commit serious crimes are likely to be sentenced harshly coupled with cruel treatment in prison. With less critical cases, one gets subtle punishments, such as engaging them in community service.


Even though many argue that federal guidelines are the best, they have received a high criticism level. For instance, its opposers say that many offenders are less violent in federal prisons, yet they don’t pose any threat to the state. They suggest that the best thing is that face cheap forms of punishment as other sentencing guidelines dictate.




From the above information, you can derive how effective federal guidelines are when making a verdict. But as a defendant or a victim, you need a knowledgeable attorney who understands how to make them favor you.


For a better understanding, visiting this site. Probably your attorney is misguiding you with a lot of theories that you may not understand. So understanding how the guidelines work will enable you to know when and where they are applicable.



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