Federal law states that anyone who uses a firearm in connection with a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime is subject to enhanced punishment. But what exactly does the word “uses” mean? Although the statute itself does not define this word, the United States Supreme Court has discussed its meaning in at least three different cases. This article examines those cases.more »
A minimum mandatory sentence is a minimum prison sentence that a judge must impose for a particular crime, without consideration of mitigating circumstances. In federal court, there are only two ways to avoid such a sentence: safety valve and cooperation. This article examines these two provisions of federal law.more »
On November 1, 2007, the U.S. Sentencing Commission amended the guidelines for crack-cocaine offenses, lowering the penalties for most crack cocaine offenses in section 2D1.1 of the guidelines by two levels.more »
Although the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines–in effect since 1987 in the federal courts–may continue to be used by judges in fashioning an appropriate sentence, they may not be used in a mandatory manner.more »
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