The Massachusetts Sentencing Commission was established in 1994 by the truth in sentencing law as a response to the escalating concern for sentencing reform. The goal of the commission is to promote truth in sentencing by developing uniform sentencing guidelines, including guidelines for the appropriate use of intermediate sanctions.
On April 11, 1996, the commission submitted its Report to the General Court, culminating an intense two-year effort of research, debate, and deliberations. The result is a comprehensive and balanced set of guidelines that will provide greater uniformity and certainty in sentencing so that victims and offenders alike will understand the meaning and effect of the sentence imposed. The guidelines will promote fairness and reduce disparity while preserving that degree of judicial discretion necessary to fashion the sentence appropriate for the individual offender and the specific offense.
The Report to the General Court, which was unanimously adopted by commission members, presents the philosophical and policy bases for the guidelines. The recommendations of the Report have been incorporated into the sentencing guidelines legislation, which is presently before the Legislature. If passed, the policies and procedures contained in this Sentencing Guide would become effective. Until then, they should be considered proposed policies and procedures.
The purpose of this document is to provide a practical guide for the application of the guidelines in sentencing a convicted defendant. Ten specific steps are set forth and a set of attachments is included for reference. The objective is to give "hands-on" directions for making the sentencing guidelines operational. The audience is intended to be judges, prosecutors, defense counsel, probation personnel, and others concerned with the practical application of the sentencing guidelines.
Table of Contents
STEP 1 Determining offense seriousness level.
STEP 2 Determining criminal history category.
STEP 3 Locating appropriate guideline grid cell.
STEP 4 Imposing incarceration sentence.
STEP 5 Imposing non-incarcerative sentence.
STEP 6 Departing from sentencing guidelines.
STEP 7 Mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration.
STEP 8 Determining nature of sentence.
STEP 9 Recording a sentence.
STEP 10 Appealing a sentence.
Attachment A Level of injury scale
Attachment B Mini-master crime list
Attachment C Sentence length chart
Attachment D Mitigating/Aggravating circumstances
Guideline Sentence Form
Criminal History Groups
Sentencing Guidelines Grid