If you are convicted of a crime in federal court, the judge will decide your sentence.  The federal sentencing guidelines play a big part in this decision. These guidelines recommend punishments based on the level of the crime and the defendant’s prior criminal history. The guidelines are not binding on the courts, although many federal judges will use them as a basis for the sentences they will give. Federal sentencing guidelines are a bit controversial, but have two main advantages.

What Advantages Are There In Using The Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

First, federal sentencing guidelines make sentencing fairer.  The guidelines ignore things like the race or economic status of the defendant.  This has helped limit undesirable sentencing disparity.

The other major advantage of federal sentencing guidelines is that they make sentencing more predictable and transparent.  Before the introduction of the guidelines, sentencing varied widely from judge to judge.  The guidelines, which are available for anyone to see, and have made the process of federal sentencing more open and less mysterious.

Are There Any Crimes That The Federal Sentencing Guidelines Do Not Cover?

The guidelines do not cover two types of crimes: Class B and Class C misdemeanors.

Class C Misdemeanors are minor infractions such as traffic or parking tickets. Class B Misdemeanors usually cover slightly more serious infractions, such as shoplifting or vandalism. The recommended punishments for these sorts of crimes will not be found on the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Do I Need A Lawyer If I Have Questions About Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

If you have questions about federal sentencing guidelines, you should consult a lawyer.  An experienced criminal defense attorney can explain the rules and let you know how they may affect you.