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Your Source for Information on Acquitted Conduct, as it Relates to Federal Sentencing


What is Acquitted Conduct?

In the realm of federal sentencing, “acquitted conduct” is a practice where judges may enhance a defendant’s sentence based on conduct that a jury had acquitted them of. This means that even if a defendant was found not guilty of certain charges, those charges could still impact their sentencing.

This practice has been controversial and has drawn criticism from a wide range of civil liberties groups. Critics argue that it undermines the jury’s role and violates the defendant’s constitutional rights.

Recent Changes to Acquitted Conduct in Federal Sentencing

On April 17, 2024, the United States Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to prohibit the use of acquitted conduct in calculating a sentence range under the federal sentencing guidelines. This means that conduct for which a person was acquitted in federal court can no longer be used in determining their sentence.

These amendments will be delivered to Congress by May 1, 2024, and if Congress does not act to disapprove the changes, they will go into effect on November 1, 2024.

The amendments have far-reaching implications. There are many legal experts and scholars, including Supreme Court Justices, who have opined publicly that sentencing on acquitted conduct is unconstitutional. And the U.S. Sentencing Commission Chairperson, Judge Carlton W. Reeves has stated: “[a]bsent
conviction of a crime, one is presumed innocent.” Nelson v. Colorado, 581 U.S. 128, 130 (2017).  

If the presumption of innocence, so sacrosanct a tenant of our basic Democracy applies to acquitted conduct, then it is only a matter of time before it is applied to dismissed conduct and uncharged should as well. One cannot argue that there is any difference between acquitted conduct, dismissed conduct and uncharged conduct.

These other categories include the vast majority of Federal inmates. Thus, Acquitted Conduct has the potential to bring justice to hundreds of thousands of Americans who were sentenced, in part, on crimes they were not convicted of. 


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AcquittedConduct.com is a free resource for attorneys, defendants and media outlets, complements of SentencingStats.com.  At AcquittedConduct.com, we aim to keep you informed about these and other important developments in the field of Acquitted Conduct as it relates to federal sentencing. We believe in the importance of understanding these issues and their impact on our justice system. Scroll down to join our email list and we’ll notify you whenever there is a new development in Acquitted Conduct.

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