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Sentencing Guidelines: Step 9, Chapter 9

Sentence for Offenses with Mandatory Minimums

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Sentence for Offenses with Mandatory Minimums

Sentences that depart from mandatory minimum sentences of incarceration prescribed by statute are prohibited by the Guidelines. Offenses affected by mandatory minimum terms are indicated by a notation on the Master Crime List.

The Sentencing Commission does not endorse the use of mandatory minimum sentences. For OUI and firearm offenses punishable by mandatory minimum sentences, the commission adopted as its sentencing guidelines the current statutory penalty provisions associated with these offenses (Figure 5), allowing for no departures from the minimum term of incarceration.

Although neither OUI nor firearm offenses appear on the sentencing guidelines grid, all have been assigned an offense seriousness level and placed on the Master Crime List for purposes of determining a defendant’s criminal history only.

Illustration 10: A defendant has been convicted of Possession of a Sawed-Off Shotgun, a felony requiring a mandatory minimum sentence to incarceration of 18 months. In determining the sentence, the judge must abide by the statutory penalty provisions set forth in G.L. c. 269 § 10(c). Under no circumstances can the judge depart from the statutory provisions and impose a sentence below the mandatory minimum.

Though in some instances the applicable sentencing guidelines range may encompass a sentence which would be below the mandatory minimum term prescribed by statute, such a sentence is prohibited by the guidelines.

Illustration 11

A defendant has been convicted of Prostitution, Induce Minor To, a level 5 offense. Based on the defendant's prior record of convictions, the defendant's criminal history group is determined to be category A (No/Minor Record). The grid cell which represents the intersection of level 5 and category A has a range of 12 to 36 months. The judge in this instance is prohibited from imposing a sentence which would result in a term of incarceration of less than three year, the mandatory minimum term prescribed by statute, even though such a sentence would be consistent with the sentencing guidelines range.

Illustration 12A defendant is convicted of Stalking - Subsequent Offense, a level 6 offense with a mandatory minimum term of two years and statutory maximum sentence of 10 years. Based on the defendant's prior record of convictions, the defendant's criminal history group is determined to be category A (No or Minor Record). The grid cell which represents the intersection of level 6 and category A has a range of 60 to 90 months. Under no circumstances can the judge impose a sentence that would result in a term of incarceration of less than two years.

Figure 5. Mandatory Offenses

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Date published: April 26, 2019
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