Sentencing by the Numbers

To set penalties for federal crimes, judges must use this sentencing table to pinpoint where the offense level and the defendant’s criminal history intersect, and then impose a sentence within that range. For example, U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds was convicted in 1997 on 15 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud and lying to the Federal Election Commission. U.S. District Judge Charles R. Norgle Sr. enhanced Reynolds’ offense level by at least six points for being a leader and organizer of a conspiracy, obstruction of justice and abusing the public trust. Those enhancements raised Reynolds’ offense level to 27. His 1995 state court conviction also hurt him by putting him in criminal history category II, giving him a sentencing range of 78 to 97 months.

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