Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1: Do I have to complete a sentencing guidelines worksheet if the possibility of incarceration is less than one year?
A1: Yes. A worksheet should be completed and submitted for all guidelines offenses. As a practical matter, this means that a worksheet should be completed for all offenses prosecuted in a Circuit Court, including new trials and reconsiderations imposed on a defendant for a crime of violence (as defined in Criminal Law Article, §14-101, Annotated Code of Maryland) and reviews. MSGM 1.0, 2.0.
Q2: How does the date of sentencing relate to changes in guidelines?
A2: The sentencing guidelines and offense seriousness categories in effect at the time of sentencing shall be used to calculate the guidelines. If it is determined that the guidelines are different than what they would have been if calculated using the sentencing guidelines and offense seriousness categories in effect on the date offense of conviction was committed, the State's Attorney or defense counsel may bring this to the attention of the judge as a consideration for departure from the guidelines. MSGM 5.2.
Q3: Should an offender be given points under "Victim Injury" if the offender was involved in the criminal event, but not in the actual injury of the victim?
For example, two co-offenders were found guilty of robbery. The victim suffered a permanent injury during the commission of the robbery. By all accounts, offender 1 was the only offender who touched the victim. Would offender 2 be given points under "Victim Injury"?
A3: Yes, if a victim is injured in a criminal event, any offender guilty of the offense(s) constituting that event should be given points in the offense score for victim injury. MSGM 6.1(B).
Q4: Are weapon points awarded for offenses where a weapon was present but not used?
For example, an offender is pulled over for a motor vehicle offense and a handgun is found in the car. Should the offender be given 2 points in the offense score for "Firearm or Explosive" under "Weapon Presence"?
A4: Yes, weapon points are awarded for any criminal event where a weapon is present. MSGM 6.1(C).
Q5: If an offender injures a victim during a criminal event involving an automobile, is the automobile considered a weapon?
A5: No, except if deliberately used as a weapon, automobiles are not included as weapons and receive a weapon presence score of 0. MSGM 6.1(C)(e).
Q6: What does section A under "Offender Score" on the worksheet mean?
A6: Section A of "Offender Score" corresponds to an individual's relationship to the criminal justice system at the time the instant offense occurred. If the individual was on probation, on parole, incarcerated, on work release, on mandatory supervision, was an escapee or had a comparable status at the time of the instant offense, s/he should be assigned 1 point for Section A. Otherwise, assign no points. MSGM 7.1(A).
Q7: When determining an offender's prior adult criminal record to determine the offense score, is a nolo contendre plea or a sentence to probation before judgment (PBJ) considered an adjudication of guilt?
A7: Yes, a nolo contendre plea is an adjudication of guilt, as is a PBJ (unless expunged or proven by the defense to have been eligible for expungement prior to the date of offense). MSGM 7.1(C).
Q8: When calculating an offender's prior adult criminal record, if an offender has been convicted of another offense but not yet sentenced--should that conviction counted in the history?
A8: Yes, as stated above, an adjudication of guilt for each criminal event, regardless of whether it remains to be sentenced, should be included in calculating the adult criminal record. MSGM 7.1(C).
Q9: Do I need to complete an offense score and offender score if the offender is charged with murder and the guidelines range is "life to life"?
A9: Yes. We ask that you still complete the entire sentencing guidelines worksheet so we can collect data on the offender's prior record and other information relevant to the case. MSGM 8.2.
Q10: What is the difference between seriousness categories III-A, III-B, and III-C in the drug matrix?
A10: Seriousness category III-A is used for Distribution of MDMA (ecstasy), 750 grams or more (CR, §5-609(a)(9)) AND Importation of marijuana, 45 kilograms or more (CR, §5-614(a)(1)).
Seriousness category III-B is used for non-marijuana and non-MDMA offenses that have a seriousness category III, such as distribution of schedule I or II narcotics or hallucinogenics (e.g., heroin, cocaine, PCP, and LSD) (CR, §5-608; CR, §5-609) or distribution of large amounts of controlled dangerous substance (CR, §5-612(a)).
Seriousness category III-C is used for importation of certain controlled dangerous substances, other than marijuana (CR, §5-614(a)).
Q11: When the non-suspendable mandatory minimum and/or maximum sentence falls outside the calculable guidelines range, which controls?
A11: If the non-suspendable mandatory minimum is greater than the lower limit of the guidelines range, the non-suspendable mandatory minimum should replace the lower limit. Likewise, if the non-suspendable mandatory minimum is greater than the upper limit of the guidelines range, the non-suspendable mandatory minimum should replace the upper limit of the guidelines range. If the statutory maximum is less than the upper limit of the guidelines range, the statutory maximum should replace the upper limit of the guidelines range. Likewise, if the statutory maximum is less than the lower limit of the guidelines range, the statutory maximum should replace the lower limit of the guidelines range. In sum, neither the low nor upper limit of the range can ever be less than the non-suspendable mandatory minimum, and neither the lower nor the upper limit o the range can ever exceed the statutory maximum. MSGM 8.5, 10.2-10.4.
Note: Offenses with non-suspendable mandatory minimums are marked in the sentencing guidelines offense table with the indicator "MM*".
Q12: Are there instances when the guidelines should be adjusted due to unique circumstances (e.g., multiple victims, subsequent offender status)?
A12: Yes. See MSGM, Chapter 10 for a complete discussion of how to adjust the guidelines in these circumstances.
Q13: How many sentencing guidelines worksheets should be completed for a criminal event with multiple victims?
A13: It depends. If all of the victims were harmed during the same criminal event, each of the separate counts can be included on the same sheet provided that there is sufficient space. If there are more than three offenses, then at least one separate sheet should be used. When completing a worksheet for a criminal event with multiple victims, the victim section of the worksheet should be completed using the information relating to the victim in the most serious offense. MSGM 10.1.
Q14: How do you calculate overall guidelines for a criminal event with multiple victims and less than two seriousness category I or seriousness category II offenses (i.e., "stacking rule")?
A14: Identify the correct guidelines range for each offense. Calculate the upper limit of the overall guidelines range by adding the highest of the upper limits of the ranges for each victim. Calculate the overall lower limit of the overall guidelines range using the standard protocol. MSGM 10.1.
For example, an offender with an offender score of 0 has been adjudicated guilty for 2 counts of 1st degree assault [CR, §3-202], a person offense, seriousness category III. There were two victims, neither of whom was injured, neither of whom had a special vulnerability, and there was no weapon present during the crime – making a total offense score of 5. The guidelines range for offender score 0 and offense score 5 for each count of Robbery is 3M-4Y. The upper limits should be added or “stacked” (to reflect two victims) so the correct overall guidelines range is 3M-8Y.
Q15: What is the seriousness category of "violation of protective order, 1st offense"?
A15: Violation of protective order, 1st offense (FL, §4-509(a)(1), Annotated Code of Maryland), is a person offense, with a seriousness category VII and a maximum term of 90 days.
Q16: Where is "reckless endangerment" located in the sentencing guidelines offense table?
A16: Reckless endangerment (CR, §3-204(a)) is found under the Assault and Other Bodily Woundings heading in the offense table. The offense is a person offense, with a seriousness category V and a maximum term of 5 years.
Q17: Where is "uttering" located in the sentencing guidelines offense table?
A17: Uttering is now called counterfeit documents (CR, §8-602(a)) and is found under the Counterfeiting heading in the offense table. The offense is a property offense, with a seriousness category V and a maximum term of 10 years.
Q18: Where is "resisting arrest" located in the sentencing guidelines offense table?
A18: Resisting arrest (CR, §9-408) is found under the Harboring, Escape, and Contraband heading in the offense table. The offense is a person offense, with a seriousness category VI and a maximum term of 3 years.
Q19: Why aren't some offenses included in the sentencing guidelines offense table?
A19: There are three main reasons why an offense would not be listed in the offense table.
The first reason is that the instant offense is not a guidelines offense. Offenses that carry no possible penalty of incarceration, along with a few other exceptions, are not guidelines offenses. No sentencing guidelines worksheet should be completed for these offenses.
Another reason is that the offense satisfies the definition of a guidelines offense but has a maximum penalty of 1 year or less. The Commission has determined that offenses that are not otherwise listed in the offense table and are punishable by a maximum penalty of 1 year or less should automatically be assigned an offense seriousness category VII. A worksheet should be completed using seriousness category VII for these cases.
The final reason is that the offense, though it satisfies the definition of a guidelines offense, is newly enacted and has yet to be included in the offense table. If this is the case, a worksheet should be completed using the closest analogous guidelines offense to determine the seriousness category. If you believe there is an error or omission in the Guidelines Offense Table, please contact the MSCCSP staff by e-mail or by phone at (301) 403-4165.
Q20: How do I order more sentencing guidelines worksheets?
A20: Click here to submit an electronic request for additional worksheets. You may also contact the MSCCSP staff by e-mail or by phone at (301) 403-4165 to place an order. Although some exceptions may occur, the worksheets will most likely be mailed to you the next business day.
Q21: How can I learn more about sentencing guidelines worksheet preparation?
A21: The MSCCSP staff is available to conduct worksheet training sessions at your convenience. They regularly travel throughout the state to train and assist practitioners in guidelines worksheet completion. Judges, State's Attorneys, Public Defenders, and Parole & Probation agents have all participated in various forms of these training sessions. If you would like to schedule a session, please contact the Commission's Training Coordinator.
Q22: How can I get a copy of the Maryland Sentencing Guidelines Manual?
A22: Click here to view and download a print friendly version of the manual. Both the manual and the offense table are text searchable for your convenience.