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Setting sentencing guidelines for federal crimes

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Federal sentencing guidelines determine the type of punishment for federal crimes in the U.S. The guidelines are not mandatory in federal courts but judges often consult them. Different factors affect how serious federal crimes are classified in Washington. Understanding these factors, as well as the punishments themselves, can be helpful to anyone who is faced with federal charges.

Ranking crimes

Federal crimes in the U.S. include interstate drug trafficking, human trafficking, kidnapping and other offenses that cross state lines. National sentencing guidelines are determined mainly by the severity of the offense. Each crime is measured at a base offense level that increases as the crime increases in complexity.

Reviewing the guidelines

Understanding federal sentencing regulations is the starting point when forming a criminal defense. The guidelines are recommended and not required for all federal judges to follow. Judges are allowed to review the guidelines and use them to form the bases of their rulings.

In addition, suspects and convicted criminals review the guidelines to estimate the cost of fines and the length of their prison time. The rules help their legal teams to form a stronger criminal defense strategy and work on preventing a conviction.

Federal sentencing guidelines in the U.S. are the levels of punishments linked to federal crimes. The average sentence includes a fine, imprisonment, probation or a combination of all factors. The sentencing is determined by the base offense level and the person’s criminal history. There are 43 offense levels that increase as the crime increases in severity, and after sentencing, the amount of time can be increased or reduced based on the offender’s behavior.