The Sentencing Guidelines regularly create unjust results in white collar cases. Loss calculations, which are not tethered to reality or related to actual culpability, produce sentences that are astoundingly high and do not serve the goals of sentencing. The risk of being sentenced under these draconian guidelines effectively precludes defendants from exercising their Sixth Amendment right to a trial.
The right to have a neutral, third party review the evidence and facts is fundamental to the foundation of our criminal justice system. However, even if a defendant has minimal culpability or a strong defense, faced with a sentence of twenty, thirty or more years, a defendant will almost always forego his right to a trial. Prosecutors have unlimited discretion over charging decisions and, therefore, the power to deter the accused from exercising their right to a fair trial.
This page contains resources on the U.S. Sentencing Commission as it relates to white collar sentencing and possible reform.
2013 Amendment Cycle
The U.S. Sentencing Commission has proposed new amendments to the Guidelines that cover white collar issues, including the theft of pre-retail medical products, trade secrets and economic espionage, counterfeit or adulterated drugs and counterfeit military parts, and the circuit conflict regarding the calculation of tax loss by a sentencing court.
On March 19, 2013, NACDL submitted comments urging the Commission to act cautiously and to not create overlapping or overly broad guidelines in these areas.
Read NACDL's Comments on the Proposed Amendments, and the USSC Proposed Amendments. NACDL's Comments on past amendment cycles are available here.
U.S. Sentencing Commission Guidelines Helpline – (202) 502-4545 – The Commission operates a telephone Helpline to assist judges, probation officers, prosecuting and defense attorneys, law clerks, and congressional staff members with specific guideline application questions. It is open Monday through Friday between 8:30AM and 5:00PM EST.
NEW! U.S. Sentencing Commission Public Hearing on Federal Sentencing Options after Booker - Includes hearing transcript and written statements of all witnesses, including NACDL's written testimony.
NEW! U.S. Sentencing Commission FY2011 Annual Report & Sourcebook of Federal Sentencing Statistics
U.S.S.C., Offense Type Primers and Other Overviews (March and April 2011)
U.S.S.C., Results of Survey of U.S. District Judges January 2010 through March 2010 (June 2010)
Guidelines for Individuals
Chapters One Through Eight of Guidelines Manual – Table of Contents
Chapter Two – Offense Conduct
Chapter Three – Adjustments [HTML] [PDF]
Chapter Four – Criminal History and Criminal Livelihood [HTML] [PDF]
Chapter Five – Determining the Sentence [HTML] [PDF]
Guidelines for Organizations
Overview: Organizational Sentencing Guidelines
Chapter Eight: Sentencing of Organizations (2007)
Ad Hoc Advisory Group on the Organizational Sentencing Guidelines