Skip to main content

In federal sentencing do they count convictions or actual charges?

Trenton, NJ |

I recently looked at the federal sentencing rules and guidelines and I do not understand where my point system where would be located.

+ Read More

Attorney answers 5


The federal sentencing guidelines are complex and consider a variety of factors in determining what your guideline range should be. In terms of criminal history, the guidelines only score convictions, not arrests. However, the court at sentencing is free to consider your arrest record in determining the appropriate sentence.


I agree with my colleague, more information is needed.


I agree with Mr. Gordon. More information is required to respond to this question. Generally, however, the "Criminal History" portion of the Guidelines (§ 4A.1.1) requires a conviction because the points are based on the sentence imposed.

No attorney-client relationship is created by responding to any question on Avvo. Further, nothing contained in any response may be relied upon as legal advice.


Your criminal history category (I-VI) will be determined by the number of criminal history points (known as your criminal history score) that you are assessed pursuant to the provisions in Chapter 4 of the US Sentencing Guidelines. Most convictions are counted unless they are exempt for a particular reason or reasons, and most charges that did not result in a conviction are not counted unless there was an admission or judicial finding of guilt as a component of a deferred prosecution or pretrial intervention program. While your effort to participate in your defense is laudable, you should seek assistance from an experienced federal criminal defense attorney in determining your advisory Guidelines range: Chapters 1 through 5 must be considered together, and the Guidelines cannot be mastered overnight.

Joshua Sabert Lowther, Esq.


To determine criminal history convictions are counted. The more difficult question is, "What is a conviction?" The Sentencing guidelines provide the answer. Only an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer is able to render an opinion in this regard. Disagreement with the Probation Officers interpretation is not unusual.

Of course, every answer is based on the question asked and requires a more complete context. This answer should not be relied upon to make a legal decision. Seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney before acting. Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd. Defenders of the Constitution since 1975/ Aggressive Creative Defense Strategies/ Website: 24/7 --(708) 481-4800.