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Sentencing Guidelines: Step 6, Chapter 6

Considerations in Imposing an Incarcerated Sentence

Table of Contents

Considerations in Imposing an Incarcerated Sentence

In order to calculate a sentence of incarceration within the sentencing guideline range:

  • Identify the appropriate sentencing guidelines grid cell.
  • Identify the maximum Not More Than sentence from within the sentencing guidelines range presented in the applicable grid cell.
  • For sentences to state prison only, the minimum, or Not Less Than sentence, will automatically be set at two-thirds of the maximum sentence. House of correction sentences do not have a minimum term.

If the Not More Than sentence is selected from the appropriate sentencing guidelines range on the grid, the sentence will be within the guidelines.

Restitution to the victim should be a priority of the judge at the time of sentencing.


Accommodating District Court Jurisdiction

In cases where a defendant in the district court falls into a cell on the sentencing guidelines grid where the sentencing guidelines range exceeds the district court sentencing jurisdiction, the sentencing guidelines range shall revert to an incarceration zone range of 20 to 30 months, and it shall not constitute a departure for a district court judge to impose a sentence of incarceration from within the 20 to 30 month range.

Illustration 6

A defendant with no prior convictions is found guilty in the District Court of Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon (significant injury), a level 6 offense. However, the prescribed guideline range at level 6 for criminal history group A (No/Minor Record) is 40 to 60 months, beyond the District Courts’ sentencing jurisdiction (i.e., greater than 2 1/2 years).

In such a case the sentencing guidelines range would revert to an incarceration zone range of 20 to 30 months to enable the District Court judge to impose a sentence. A sentence within the 20 to 30 month sentencing range would not constitute a departure.

Additional Resources



John Adams Courthouse
One Pemberton Square - G300
Boston, MA 02108
Date published: April 26, 2019