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December 29, 2021

"How Much Prison Time Could Ghislaine Maxwell Serve After Sex Trafficking Conviction?"

The question in the title of this post is the headline of this new Newsweek article that explores a bit what I started thinking about upon hearing that Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein's "helper," had been convicted on five of six federal sex trafficking charges.  The simple technical answer to the question is 65 years, and the article provides these (helpful?) additional details:

The most serious charge Maxwell was convicted of, sex trafficking of a minor, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years.  She was also convicted of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, a charge punishable by up to 10 years, as well as three other charges that each carry maximum sentences of five years.... It is unclear when she could be tried on two separate counts of perjury, which could also add a five-year sentence apiece.

[I]f 60-year-old Maxwell is given a sentence anywhere near the maximum allowable term, she may spend the rest of her life behind bars, especially since the federal prison system does not include parole. If federal prison sentencing guidelines are allowed and she is ordered to serve sentences concurrently, Maxwell could face as little as 10 years.

Maxwell was sent back to Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center after the verdict was read on Wednesday.  She has been held at the facility in isolation since being arrested in July 2020. Maxwell is likely to remain there until she is sentenced and assigned to a federal prison....

It is unclear whether security measures for Maxwell will be altered in light of her convictions.  Maxwell has denied all of the charges that she was convicted of on Wednesday. Plans to launch an appeal have already been set in motion, her attorney Bobbi Sternheim told reporters after the verdict. "We firmly believe in Ghislaine's innocence," Sternheim said. "Obviously we are very disappointed with the verdict, we have already started working on the appeal and we are confident that she will be vindicated."

U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan has yet to announce the date of Maxwell's pending sentencing hearing.

I think this article means to make the point that if federal sentencing guidelines are followed (not "allowed"), then Maxwell would be quite likely to get a term lower than the 65-year  statutory maximum available.  (It is perhaps worth noting that the most serious count of conviction now carries a statutory maximum sentence of life, but the stat max was "only" 40 years at the time of Maxwell's offense conduct.)

I am not an expert on guideline calculations for this set of offenses, but my sense is that the recommend range will be at least as high as 20 years, and perhaps even much higher.  It will be interesting to see the precise calculation and the sentencing advocacy by the prosecution and the defense in the months ahead.  It will also be interesting to watch if Judge Nathan's nomination to the Second Circuit, or the effort by some GOP Senators to question her sentencing work, could come to somehow impact Maxwell's eventual sentencing.

December 29, 2021 at 11:45 PM | Permalink


I knew this would pop right up. Selective prosecution of 70s, 80s and 90's sleaze fests with emancipated minors weeping years later. A whole lotta bilge.

Posted by: Fluffyross | Dec 30, 2021 9:30:17 AM

My quick glance at the guidelines gave me a range of 121-151 months. Given the behavior involved and the number of victims, I would expect an upwards departure. My quick guess would be somewhere between 15 and 20 years.

Posted by: tmm | Dec 30, 2021 10:24:34 AM

She’s going to sing.

Posted by: Federalist | Dec 30, 2021 1:26:35 PM

Stalinist show trials on "crimes" that are older than the original statute of limitations (7 of 5 years) deserve no prison time whatsoever. Another travesty of justice and those responsible for bringing and prosecuting the case should be given 5 years hard labor. Set Maxwell free.

Posted by: restless94110 | Dec 30, 2021 4:45:48 PM

What sentence? Zero, of course!

-- They'll get over it.

-- Their skirts were too short so they had it coming.

-- The prosecutors just went after Maxwell because the main malefactor was dead, and they didn't want to waste all that work they did putting the case file together.

-- Maxwell was actually the victim of Epstein's conniving. The girls are older now anyway, and it's time to move on.

-- The age of consent should be 10; it's only higher than that because of prosecutor/Puritan/tight-panties Republicans. Guys, please, we're in the New Age!

-- It was all just to distract from racial injustice and rampant white supremacy. We shouldn't be fooled!

-- We already have incarceration nation and we don't need to add one more.


My thanks to the defense bar for years of teaching me the correct reaction to stories like this.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 30, 2021 6:06:25 PM

"It will also be interesting to watch if Judge Nathan's nomination to the Second Circuit, or the effort by some GOP Senators to question her sentencing work, could come to somehow impact Maxwell's eventual sentencing."

Nathan's about as far as you can get from being a hack, so I'm predicting the amount of "impact" will be roughly zero.

Posted by: kotodama | Dec 31, 2021 9:59:15 AM

Otis: it's not just the defense bar. It's as the Chambers Bros. sang: "Time, time, time..." Morality then v morality now. The word on the street is that today's morality is tainted retrospectively, first by conservatives and lefties with zero lifestyle in those years,
and second, with the shrinkage of an inactive penis. This is true. "I heard it through the grapevine."

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Dec 31, 2021 2:59:32 PM

Fluffy --

I don't know what you've been smoking or snorting, but remind me to stay away from it.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Dec 31, 2021 11:10:37 PM

I predict an effective life sentence. At least 25 years. In most cases, she might be able to get it reduced by telling on her clients. But in this case, the clients are so well-connected, I'm not confident that the prosecutors would want her to do so.

Posted by: William C Jockusch | Jan 9, 2022 9:37:46 PM

And what about the little black book? Does it remain sealed to protect all the politicians, celebrities, and businessmen who would probably get a similar conviction? Oh, sorry, they have plenty of money to pay for an "adequate defense."

Posted by: Oswaldo | Jan 11, 2022 9:04:02 PM

This is a witch hunt against her . She is essentially a surrogate for Epstein alleged acts. She should not even have been charged let alone convicted. Unfair trial by media. Now saying more than 10 years for allegedly touching a teens tits more than 20 teens ago- (who was brought in by others anyway and received millions of dolllars ) ? Come on. It’s a disgrace - it’s unjust disgrace. Maxwell already being punished way too hard. Killers get less time in Uk and other western countries. USA justice is unjust.

Posted by: Dianne Felgate | Feb 10, 2022 7:27:49 AM

Sex traffickers of children have no heart or soul. They just destroy everyone around them.

It is my hope that the Maxwell case is a precedent to stop this kind of behavior in the well connected.

My own kids are being sex trafficked by a violent attorney, Valerie Houghton. The youngest is just 2. When I tried to protect my kids, Ms. Houghton had me hacked, stalked, harassed, and assaulted.

If anyone can help me, please let me know. This has been extremely difficult to cope with. I have posted more details here:


Posted by: Ben Z. | Jun 28, 2022 8:15:23 PM

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