Federal district courts use the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to calculate the total offense level for each defendant convicted of a crime in federal court. The total offense level corresponds with an advisory sentencing range in months (e.g., level 32 corresponds with a sentencing range of 121 to 151 months in custody). After calculating a defendant’s total offense level, a district court can give a sentence below or above the Guidelines range as long as the deviation from the Guidelines is properly explained and doesn’t run afoul of any mandatory minimums or maximums.
This calculation begins with the base offense level, which is determined by the type of offense. In sex offense cases, there are a host of adjustments, or enhancements, that may then apply. These enhancements can dramatically increase a defendant’s total offense level. This section of Johnson/Citronberg’s Handbook takes a closer look at the applicable enhancements in federal internet sex offense cases. This section also examines how a defendant’s criminal history in sex offense cases can increase the total offense level.