August 2004

Jeffrey Hallam writes “Constitutionality of US Sentencing Guidelines is Questioned” for International Law Office


The international community, and especially any individual or entity facing a federal criminal sentence in the United States, should pay close attention to the recent US Supreme Court case of Blakely v Washington,(1) which has plunged the US federal criminal sentencing system into turmoil. The June 24 2004 decision seriously questions the constitutionality of the US Sentencing Guidelines and nearly a dozen state sentencing guideline schemes. In a five-to-four decision, the Supreme Court ruled that Washington’s state sentencing guidelines were unconstitutional because they allowed a judge, rather than a jury, to consider factors that increase a defendant’s criminal penalty.