THE BASICS OF THE ALABAMA SENTENCING GUIDELINES

Collecting The Basis Information That You Need To Work Through The Alabama Sentencing Guidelines

In order to work through the Alabama Sentencing Guidelines certain basic information needs to be collected and readily available.  This includes the criminal charge or charges that the defendant is facing, information regarding the defendant’s criminal history, and whether a weapon or deadly instrument was used in the commission of the crime.  While this page touches on the basics of the information, please note that more in depth information and analysis is available by clicking on the links in the various sections below.

First, it must be understood that at the present time, the guidelines are either presumptive or they are voluntary depending on the type of criminal charge involved.  For non-violent property crimes and for most drug offenses, the Alabama Sentencing Guidelines are presumptive as of October 1, 2013.  As noted elsewhere on the website, “presumptive” means that the recommended sentence range (in months) and the recommended sentence disposition (prison or non-prison) is presumed to be applicable to the case unless there is a departure from the disposition or range.  Alabama Code § 12-25-34.2

The use of the Alabama Sentencing Guidelines for other criminal offenses are, at this time, “voluntary.”  If the use of the sentencing guidelines is voluntary, the sentencing judge must review the sentencing standards and at least consider the suitability and applicability of the recommended disposition.  The judge’s consideration must be “on the record.”  Ala. Code § 12-25-35

Regardless of whether the sentencing guidelines are voluntary or presumptive, the basic steps in the process of determining the disposition under the sentencing guidelines is the same

DETERMINE WHETHER THE CRIMINAL OFFENSE UNDER THE VOLUNTARY OR THE PRESUMPTIVE GUIDELINES ?

Because some criminal charges are under the voluntary guidelines and some criminal charges are under the presumptive guidelines, the first order of business is to determine whether you are dealing with a voluntary or a presumptive situation.

Presently, the Alabama Sentencing Guidelines defines the particular offenses under the Alabama Criminal Code that are “violent offenses.”  The list includes charges for homicide, assault, kidnapping, sex offenses, child pornography, some domestic violence offenses, burglary, robbery, stalking, and a host of other offenses which involve physical violence or the threat of physical violence, the use or attempted use of a deadly weapon, or offenses which are nonconsensual sex offenses.  Complete List of Violent Offenses Under Alabama Code § 12-25-32.

The following criminal offenses under the Alabama Criminal Code fall under the presumptive guidelines as of October 2013:

Non-Violent Property Crimes

  • Theft of property 1st Degree and 2nd Degree
  • Receiving Stolen Property 1st Degree and 2nd Degree
  • Possession of a Forged Instrument 2nd Degree
  • Fraudulent Possession or Use of Credit or Debit Card
  • Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle or Breaking and Entering Vehicle

The non-violent property crimes that fall under the presumptive guidelines do not  include attempts or conspiracy.

Drug Charges  

  • Manufacturing Controlled Substance 1st Degree and 2nd Degree
  • Sale / Distribution of Controlled Substance
  • Possession with Intent to distribute a Controlled Substance
  • Sale / Distribution of Marihuana
  • Possession of Controlled Substance
  • Possession of Marihuana 1st Degree
  • Felony DUI

It should be noted that if the drug charge involves sale or distribution to a minor, the offense is not included.  Additionally, for drug charges, attempts, conspiracies and solicitations are included.

Once the criminal charge is determined, the particular worksheets for the type of charge lists the score

DETERMINE THE DEFENDANT’S CRIMINAL HISTORY

Prior Adult Felony Convictions