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January 26, 2008

Interesting new FSG resource

A helpful reader sent me this e-mail alerting me to this notable and interesting web resource:

For a few months, I've been running a web site that performs basic calculations under the federal sentencing guidelines. It should run in any browser with JavaScript enabled; no need for users to install any special software. The site is free, and has no advertisements.

It can handle most of the Chapter Two guidelines, and things like grouping and criminal history, but does not yet support Chapter Five departures. It also pays no attention to statutory maximums. Obviously, no lawyer should ever rely on this (or any other) tool without going through a guideline calculation by hand, but it is still useful for some things.

Please check it out at http://www.sentencing.us/ and feel free to let others know about it.

Because I do not regularly run guideline calculations, I cannot effectively test the efficacy of this resource.  But the idea is great, and I hope others who do often calculate guideline ranges with check out this site and report on its virtues (or possible vices).

In addition to thanking the creator of this site, I cannot help but wonder why this kind of resource is not provided directly by the US Sentencing Commission on its website.

January 26, 2008 at 08:42 AM | Permalink

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Comments

CEB in California has their Crime-IQ, very similar. How can the law be a deterrent when it takes a computer to figure it out?

Product Description

Crime-IQ is a PDA application that gives you quick and easy access to the legal consequences of criminal offenses. Perfect for the courtroom or hearing, it instantly provides all the sentencing information you and your client need on the consequences of a plea.

Crime-IQ gives you information on sentencing ranges, limitation of custody credits, auxiliary fines, DMV consequences, probation eligibility, potential enhancements, registration requirements, immigration impact, and special conditions for offenses. You’ll have the information you need instantly without looking through multiple sections in the Penal Code, Health & Safety Code, Business & Professions Code, and Vehicle Code. Crime-IQ software works with Palm OS and Windows OS.

Posted by: George | Jan 26, 2008 8:54:45 AM

How can the law be a deterrent when it takes a computer to figure it out?

People who do illegal things can be generally aware of what things will increase or decrease their potential sentences and adjust accordingly without knowning precisely how the numbers will shake out.

Posted by: | Jan 26, 2008 10:01:47 AM

Intrigued, I just went to www.sentencing.us and plugged in bank robbery. Program yielded completely wrong guideline. Creator has lots of work to do.

Posted by: | Jan 26, 2008 10:11:51 AM

"People who do illegal things can be generally aware of what things will increase or decrease their potential sentences and adjust accordingly without knowning precisely how the numbers will shake out."

I'm not sure what you are arguing here. That it should be even more confusing? Here is an invitation to reconsider.

The federal criminal "code" is a disgrace: obstruction statutes as case study.(The Changing Face of White-Collar Crime)

Publication: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

Publication Date: 01-JAN-06
Author: O'Sullivan, Julie R.

Posted by: | Jan 26, 2008 10:50:04 AM

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