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In Federal Criminal Case Sentencing, Facts Can Be Used for Multiple Purposes

In federal sentencing, the use of facts for dual purposes, such as both establishing the underlying offense and enhancing the sentence, is generally allowed. The legal framework for federal sentencing is outlined in the United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG), which provide a structure for determining sentences based on various factors, including the nature and circumstances of the offense, the criminal history of the individual charged, and any mitigating or aggravating factors.  

18 USCS Appx § 1B1.4 states that the court has the discretion to consider, without constraints, any information pertaining to the defendant’s background, character, and conduct, unless expressly prohibited by law. This encompasses details that the sentencing guidelines do not factor in when determining a sentence within the guideline range, granting the court significant flexibility in probing the circumstances and facts of a criminal offense during charging decisions. 

To provide a basic example, if a person is charged with theft, and the amount stolen is over $900, the fact that it’s over $900 can be used both to establish the underlying offense (grand theft) and to potentially enhance the sentence. Sentencing enhancements are often applied based on specific factors, and the amount of loss in theft cases is one such factor.  

The USSG provides for enhancements in certain instances, taking into account factors that may aggravate the offense or increase the severity of the sentence. The specific guidelines for theft offenses would include provisions for different offense levels based on the amount of loss involved. 

It is important to note that sentencing laws and guidelines can vary between federal and state jurisdictions, and each case should be evaluated individually based on where it is being prosecuted. Additionally, legal interpretations and case law often evolve, so it is important that you contact a defense attorney such as us at Chastaine Jones to help you evaluate and best resolve your case.  

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