How Might Sentencing Guidelines Affect the Decision?

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Federal sentencing guidelines set out uniform procedures to be used during the hearing of a case and determining the punishment that the guilty individuals should face. Notably, such guidelines apply to Class A misdemeanors and felonies. However, such guidelines are not applicable to the less severe crime. The jury must base their judgment on the available evidence that has been presented to them and cannot work under assumptions during the decision-making process. Therefore, the guidelines reduce disparities on a judgment concerning similar criminal activities (Engen, & Gainey, 2011). As a result, the sentencing decisions must be based on the sentencing guides, and this increases certainty and efficiency in court cases. The guidelines limit the presiding judges from imposing different penalties to the law offenders. For instance, they should follow the guidelines for determining the amount of time that the guilty suspect should spend in prison or on parole. This means that the sentencing decisions ensures uniformity in judgment and this maintains the reputation of the criminal justice system.

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The sentencing guidelines increase proportionality in the jury decisions during trial. Additionally, it leads to a decline in biased opinion based on gender, ethnicity, or cultural differences, conforming to the provision of the constitution. As per the constitution, it is necessary for the citizens to receive government provided services and be considered equal in all aspects. Therefore, the guidelines acted as a step towards achieving this objective, as it is the responsibility of the government. Additionally, the proportionality in court decisions ensures that the criminals face judgment based on the crime committed and its impact instead of using personal judgment.

What is the purpose of the victim impact statement in a PSI report?

The presentence investigation report (PSI) brings out some information about the criminal history of a suspect and determines the possibility of a continuation of the same trend of crime. As a result, the jury comes to understand the criminal behavior of the suspect, enabling them to correlate the previous crime to the present one. If they determine that there is a continuation of the criminal activity, they can be compelled to impose a harsh judgment on the suspect. Another purpose of the victim impact statement is to allow the victim and any other person affected by the crime, such as family members to the victim, to express themselves before the court of law (Hellerstein, 2012). The strategy elevates the status of the victims, as they felt relieved and given an opportunity to express their grievances before the judges. The victim impact statement relieves the victims from the stressful situation in which they are in and aids them through the emotional recovery process. Additionally, the victim has a chance to inform the court about the trauma that he/she has been undergoing since the criminal incident, and this information enables the judges to determine the level of punishment that the offender should be subjected to.

Factors brought about the use of the victim impact statement.

The victims need to have their side of the story heard by the jury as this helps in their emotional recovery process. Because of the necessity of the judges to hear from the affected party, it became necessary to introduce the victim impact statements. The strategy puts its focus on the offender, enabling the court proceedings to continue as scheduled, as more evidence is determined. Additionally, the jury needs to understand the feelings of the affected parties, their perception, and what they want to be done (Cassell, & Erez, 2011). Even if this may not be used to determine the decision of the case, the information collected is preserved and can be employed in the future if the criminal breaks the law again. The jury, therefore, comes to understand the feelings of the members of the society concerning a particular case.


Cassell, P. G., & Erez, E. (2011). Victim impact statements and ancillary harm: The American perspective. Canadian Criminal Law Review, 15, 149.Engen, R. L., & Gainey, R. R. (2011). Modeling The Effects Of Legally Relevant And Extralegal Factors Under Sentencing Guidelines: The Rules Have Changed*. Criminology,38(4), 1207-1230.

Hellerstein, D. R. (2012). Victim Impact Statement: Reform or Reprisal, The.Am. Crim. L. Rev., 27, 391.

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