Category: Sentencing

What Constitutes “Using” a Gun and Why Does It Matter?

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.

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Why Should You Be Especially Careful When It Comes to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

          Anyone who is considering pleading guilty to a federal crime should be concerned not only about the actual crime he is pleading guilty to but also about any additional facts he is asked to agree to as part of…

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How Can You Avoid a Minimum Mandatory Sentence in Federal Court?

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.

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What is the crack-cocaine amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines and why is it important?

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.

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Why is the case of U.S. v. Booker so important to federal sentencing?

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.

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What are the Federal Sentencing Guidelines?

These are rules that set forth a uniform sentencing policy for individuals convicted of federal crimes.

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