Rebekah R. Runyon, Am I Under Arrest? Why the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines Need A Strict Definition of What Constitutes an Intervening Arrest

67 Fla. L. Rev. 1307 |

Congress provided for the creation of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to promote fairness and produce proportional and uniform sentences. The Guidelines provide judges with a guideline range for sentencing based on a defendant’s criminal history score and the offense level of the defendant’s criminal conduct. A defendant’s prior “intervening arrests” are considered in computing her criminal history score. But the current version of the Guidelines does not clearly define what constitutes an intervening arrest for the purposes of calculating an offender’s score. Consequently, a split has developed between circuit courts as to whether a criminal traffic citation constitutes an intervening arrest when determining a defendant’s criminal history score. This Note analyzes the different definitions of an intervening arrest within the circuit courts. It then outlines reasons why the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s definition of an intervening arrest should prevail. Finally, this Note proposes that the U.S. Sentencing Commission should revise the Guidelines to provide a clearer explanation of the term intervening arrest in order to resolve disagreement among the circuit courts and achieve greater fairness in sentencing.

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