Federal sentencing is tough, and difficult to understand. While a favorable plea agreement may have been entered, and objections to the Presentence Report, have been made, nothing is certain. All decisions on objections, motions for downward departure, and a variances are made in one swoop, on the sentencing date.
Federal sentences are imposed in months, not years. The sentence a person faces is guided by a range. A person’s sentence range is determined by two factors: the offense level for the crime they are convicted of, and their criminal history category. In order to appropriately determine a sentence range, a complete list of prior criminal history is needed. For criminal history calculations, any offense within 15 years of the current charge, may count for criminal history category purposes.
The offense level for any offense is statutory and may be found in the Sentencing Guidelines manual. For drug offenses, a Drug Quantity Table is used.
A person’s sentence range is the cross point of their Criminal History Category, and Offense Level. The sentence range is only suggestive of the sentence that a person may face. Federal Judges are no longer required to follow the Sentencing Guidelines.
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