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The Champion

July 2003 , Page 34 

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Out of character: A primer of the §5k2.20 aberrant behavior departure

By Anne E. Blanchard, Jon M. Sands

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ab•er•rant adj.1. Deviating from the proper or expected course. 2. Deviating from what is normal; untrue to type. – The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition 2000 p.3)  

    “Aberrant behavior” is a departure that acknowledges a person’s criminal act can be totally out of character. It is a departure that focuses on the individual offender and recognizes that the offense arose from a unique set of circumstances, and constitutes a complete break with the person’s normal life, judgment and actions. As sentencing policy, the departure endorses a scrutiny of a defendant’s whole character and past. It is also a departure that was forged by the creativity and efforts of defense counsel and the willingness of courts, in sentencing, to ask “Why?”  

    The departure, now identified as U.S.S.G. § 5K2.20, arose from a passing reference in Chapter 1 of the Guidelines Manual. This reference indicated that the Guidelines had not considered acts of aberrant conduct.

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