Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines judges may increase a defendant's sentence based upon charges for which the defendant was found not guilty. This practice, which allows judges to consider "relevant conduct" will soon be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
The case before the Court concerns Davonta McClinton who, at 17, burglarized a CVS pharmacy. Prosecutors claimed that he shot one of his conspirators but a jury ultimately found McClinton not guilty of causing the person's death.
The Trial Court ignored the not guilty verdict and agreed with prosecutors that McClinton should serve additional time for a crime the government failed to convince a jury he committed. The Sentencing Guidelines for his convicted conduct prescribed a term of 57-71 months but the Court sentenced him to 228 months, or 19 years, based on the relevant conduct provisions of the Guidelines.
We hope this practice will finally be declared unconstitutional. In the meantime, federal criminal defense attorneys must object to any additional sentence for any conduct the defendant was found not guilty of or was not even accused of committing.