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Federal Sentencing Guidelines

30. What are the “Federal Sentencing Guidelines”?

In 1980, a federal sentencing commission developed sentencing guidelines for federal crimes. Initially they were mandatory for federal courts, but later became discretionary. The federal guidelines are still very influential in the sentencing process. Some states have model guidelines for use in state-law, criminal cases.

•    Note: Business entities are subject to punishment under the federal sentencing guidelines as well.

•    Discussion: Do you believe courts should employ standard sentencing guidelines? Why or why not?

•    Practice Question: Tommy is convicted under a federal money-laundering statute. He is awaiting sentencing. What role does the Federal Sentencing Guidelines play in the court sentencing Tommy for his illegal conduct?

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