Is the Maximum Sentence the Same as Getting Off Easy?

TigerHawk tells us that by receiving only a 3 year sentence Wesley Snipes got off easy:

And for my fellow libertarian conservatives who are offended, I offer the friendly reminder that Pete Rose served five months in federal prison for defaulting on approximately 2% of the taxes and penalties owed by Wesley Snipes.

Considering that federal sentencing guidelines -- which law-and-order conservatives loudly champion as the remedy for "soft judges" -- for other white collar offenses have massively increased jail time for purely monetary crimes (many of which have much more ambiguous evidentiary and legal standards than rank tax evasion), three years seems incredibly light.

TH concedes that white-collar sentencing has “gone completely overboard” but says that by recent standards Snipes would have gotten ten years if he were some CEO.

Actually, anyone convicted of the same thing as Snipes would have gotten 36 months or less. Three years - that is, a maximum sentence of 1 year for each misdemeanor conviction, then stacked or run consecutively – is the most that Snipes or anyone else similarly situated could have received. 

The maximum sentence was a likely result here, because once the ‘appropriate’ punishment for the acquitted conduct was factored in, Snipes was theoretically way over the guidelines for the maximum.

But it’s hard to see where one can argue that the max and getting off easy – for misdemeanors again mind you – are even close to the same logical ballpark.

As for the analogy to Pete Rose’s situation, he probably received some sort of downward departure for acceptance of responsibility and pleading guilty. And his sentences – yes, plural – all ran concurrently. But let’s ignore that.

Is the 2% figure supposed to mean that Snipes should have gotten a sentence 50 times longer than Rose? 250 months? Almost 21 years? If we start following that logic, we’ll lead the world in incarceration rates.

UPDATE.  I should have read the comments before publishing. Here’s part of one:

Snipes is a sh*tty actor and criminal. He deserves the long arm of the law.

Begs the question: Should Al Pacino get a lower sentence than Steven Seagal if they were both caught cheating for roughly the same amount of taxes? And do we count total number of Oscar nominations, or just wins when it comes to lesser punishment?

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Comments (3) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
captain calzone - April 27, 2008 3:41 AM

SOME ACTORS WILL GET A LOWER SENTENCE BECAUSE OF THEIR STATUS. LOOK AT ACTORS WHO GET CAUGHT WITYH THE SAME AMOUNT OF DRUGS COMPARED TO A LOW-CLASS STREET THUG. MONEY IS THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL, BUT THE SEED OF INJUSTICE.

JoJo57 - May 19, 2008 1:50 AM

I just want to say there is a great need for downward departures. I m 67 years old and a drug addict unfortunately I made the biggest mistake of my life about 4 years ago. I transported a large amount of drugs across state lines. After I was arrested I got into a recovery program and have been clean since.I was arrested in 2004 in TX. In Mar 2005 my charges were dismissed. In June 2007 I was rearrested on the same charge plus a lesser charge. I did a rule 20 and plead guilty to the lesser charge 5 yr cap and the bad charge of 10 to life was dropped. Im also in treatment and all my UAs have been clean I wennt to sentencing in Apr. The judge was not happy I was in his court room He said there was a breach of contract by the government, and I should have not been rearrested due to many mistakes by the prosecutor in TX and the DEA in WA. So now I have the prosecutor in TX and WA mad at me because theey got in trouble by their bosses. So there is no way Ill chance going to TX to fight the breach of contract. My attorney said the original charge would be reinstated and I would probably go to TX and not come back plus be sentenced to 10 yrs. So here I am caught in the middle because some people did not do their Jobs. I go back for sentenceing on May 21 2008, I just hope the judge grants some departures. I alsso take care of my mom who has dementia. Any ideas on my situation?

JoJo57 - May 19, 2008 1:51 AM

I just want to say there is a great need for downward departures. I m 57 years old and a drug addict unfortunately I made the biggest mistake of my life about 4 years ago. I transported a large amount of drugs across state lines. After I was arrested I got into a recovery program and have been clean since.I was arrested in 2004 in TX. In Mar 2005 my charges were dismissed. In June 2007 I was rearrested on the same charge plus a lesser charge. I did a rule 20 and plead guilty to the lesser charge 5 yr cap and the bad charge of 10 to life was dropped. Im also in treatment and all my UAs have been clean I wennt to sentencing in Apr. The judge was not happy I was in his court room He said there was a breach of contract by the government, and I should have not been rearrested due to many mistakes by the prosecutor in TX and the DEA in WA. So now I have the prosecutor in TX and WA mad at me because theey got in trouble by their bosses. So there is no way Ill chance going to TX to fight the breach of contract. My attorney said the original charge would be reinstated and I would probably go to TX and not come back plus be sentenced to 10 yrs. So here I am caught in the middle because some people did not do their Jobs. I go back for sentenceing on May 21 2008, I just hope the judge grants some departures. I alsso take care of my mom who has dementia. Any ideas on my situation?

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