What Is the United States Sentencing Commission?
Why Might It Be Important To Your Case?
The United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) is an independently operated judicial agency that does several things:
1. It sets sentencing policies for federal criminal offenders.
2. It advises lawmakers about effective anticrime policy.
3. It collects and processes information about federal crimes and sentencing and serves as a general resource.
The Commission creates what are known as sentencing guidelines. Federal judges must consult these guidelines when determining sentencing.
Congress created the Commission as part of the 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act to make sure that sentencing for federal crimes would be more structured and fair.
How the Guidelines Work
The guidelines are designed to take into consideration two key questions:
1. How serious was the crime committed?
2. What kind of criminal record (if any) does the defendant have?
Federal crimes are categorized into one of 43 categories, also known “offense levels.” Defendants are also categorized according to their criminal history into six categories.
The United States Sentencing Commission advises judges to use these categories to determine appropriate sentencing. Judges have discretion and may depart from the recommended guidelines, but they must at least consult them.
What should you do if you’ve been accused of a federal crime?
Find a lawyer with years of experience in Federal Courts who knows the guidelines and how they are applied by the particular Federal Judge in the U.S. District Court before whom you are going to appear.