U.S. Sentencing Guidelines: Northern District of California Summary

(Data for the six-month period ending March 31, 2007.)

 

San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland:
Do The Numbers Show The Sentencing Guidelines Are "Advisory?"

  • In the Northern District of California, the odds of a federal defendant being sentenced within (or outside) the calculated U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range are different from national averages. Plainly the following statistics are data points, not a guarantee how a particular judge will proceed in an individual matter. The ability to thoughtfully assess the sentencing judge's track record, and the skill to leverage the value of Booker and Rita in a particular courtroom, are at least every bit as important as the statistics.
  • Combining San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland results, 53.9 % of the sentences were within the Guidelines, 43.7 % were below the guidelines, and 2.6% (just 7 sentences) involved an upward departure (282 sentencings reported).
  • The 43.7% of below-Guideline sentences (123 sentences) includes the U.S.:
    • Sponsoring a departure 27.7% of the time [15.6% for substantial assistance (§5K1.1), 3.9% for fast track (§5K3.1) and 8.2% (other reasons)], across 78 cases;
    • Not sponsoring the departure in 16% of the cases (45 cases); and
    • Therefore in 84% of the reported cases, the defendant was sentenced with a plea bargain that either adopted a guidelines calculation or held out the possibility of a government motion (that the government ultimately made) for a below-guideline sentence.
    • Northern District of California data for the entire 2006 fiscal year (ending September 30, 2006) reveal that of all 662 defendants:
      • 140 were sentenced to probation, with less than half of those (51) involving some form of confinement;
      • 35 defendants were sentenced to a prison/community split sentence; and
      • 485 defendants were sentenced to a straight prison term, including 86 (up to 12 months); 107 (13-24 months); 60 (25-36 months); 125 (37-60 months; and 136 (over 60 months).

    • Custody dispositions by major offense group are as follows:

    OFFENSE

    NO. CONVICTED

    NO. TO PRISON

    Other

    147

    105

    Drugs

    132

    124

    Immigration

    121

    110

    Fraud

    109

    51

    Firearms

    96

    94

    Larceny+Embezzlement

    24 + 7

    15 + 3

    Counterfeiting

    10

    2

    Preliminary Quarterly Data Report Through March 31, 2007, U.S. Sentencing Commission, Table 2.