Pulling over the United States Sentencing Guidelines: Defining 'Arrest' Under Section 4A1.2(a)(2)

Author:John A. Richter
Position:J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2016; B.B.A., The University of Iowa, 2013
Pages:435-463
SUMMARY

The United States Sentencing Commission ("Commission") created the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("Guidelines") to bring uniformity and fairness to criminal sentencing in the United States. Since their inception and application by judges in 1987, the Guidelines have lacked a definition for "arrest" in section 4A1.2(a)(2). This absence of a definition developed a circuit split over whether... (see full summary)

 
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435
Pulling over the United States Sentencing
Guidelines: Defining “Arrest” Under
Section 4A1.2(a)(2)
John A. Richter
ABSTRACT: The United States Sentencing Commissi on (“Commission”)
created the United States Sentencing Guidelines (“Guidelines”) to bring
uniformity and fairness to criminal sentencing in the United States. Since
their inception and application by judges in 1987, the Guidelines have
lacked a definition for “arrest” in section 4A1.2(a)(2). This absence of a
definition developed a circuit split over whether traffic citations fall within
the meaning of “arrest” for purposes of determining a defendant’s criminal
history, and thus, his criminal sentence. This Note argues that the United
States Supreme Court should adopt the Ninth Circuit’s approach to defining
“arrest” in the context of section 4A1.2(a)(2), because this approach aligns
with current Supreme Court precedent (particularly with relevant Fourth
Amendment case law); reflects the goals and purposes of the Guidelines; and
matches a defendant’s culpability, likelihood of recidivating, and sentence
while decreasing sentencing disparity among similarly situated defendants.
I. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................. 437
II. HISTORY OF THE SENTENCING GUIDELINES AND THEIR
APPLICATION ................................................................................. 438
A. ORIGINS AND OPERATION OF THE FEDERAL SENTENCING
GUIDELINES ............................................................................ 438
1. Federal Sentencing Reform, Its Purpose, Its Policy
Justifications, and the Creation of the Sentencing
Commission and Guidelines ........................................ 440
J.D. Candidate, The University of Iowa College of Law, 2016; B.B.A., The University of
Iowa, 2013. I would like to thank the editors and writers of Volumes 100 and 101 of the Iowa Law
Review for their work on this Note. I am also grateful for the support and encouragement of my
parents, brothers, and Isabeau Vilks throughout my law school career.
436 IOWA LAW REVIEW [Vol. 101:435
2. Sentencing Pursuant to the Guidelines ....................... 442
3. Computing Criminal History Score: Chapter 4, Part A of
the Guidelines ............................................................... 443
4. Significance of Section 4A1.2(a)(2) in Computing a
Defendant’s Sentence ................................................... 445
B. TRANSITION FROM MANDATORY TO ADVISORY GUIDELINES ....... 445
III. CIRCUITS DEVELOP DIFFERENT NOTIONS OF THE SCOPE OF
“ARREST FOR PURPOSES OF COMPUTING CRIMINAL HISTORY SCORE
UNDER SECTION 4A1.2(A)(2) ...................................................... 446
A. THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT APPROACH ........................................... 447
B. THE NINTH CIRCUIT APPROACH .............................................. 448
IV. THE SUPREME COURT SHOULD ADOPT THE NINTH CIRCUITS
DEFINITION OF “ARREST UNDER SECTION 4A1.2(A)(2) ............ 450
A. THE NINTH CIRCUITS APPROACH ACCORDS WITH CURRENT
SUPREME COURT CASE LAW THAT DISTINGUISHES ARRESTS FROM
CITATIONS .............................................................................. 450
1. Supreme Court Case Law Differentiates Between
Citations and Arrests ..................................................... 450
2. “Arrest” as Established by Fourth Amendment Supreme
Court Precedent ............................................................ 451
i. Informing a Suspect That He or She Is Under Arrest ... 451
ii. Transporting the Suspect to the Police Station ............. 452
iii. Booking the Suspect into Jail ...................................... 453
iv. Additional Aspects of Fourth Amendment Supreme Court
Precedent Supporting the Ninth Circuit Approach ....... 453
3. The Seventh Circuit’s Approach Fails to Account for
Supreme Court Precedent That Distinguishes Between
“Traffic Citations” and “Arrests” .................................. 456
B. THE NINTH CIRCUITS APPROACH BEST EFFECTUATES THE
SENTENCING COMMISSIONS GOALS AND ADVANCES IMPORTANT
POLICY CONSIDERATIONS ......................................................... 457
1. Relationship Between Recidivism and Lower Culpability
of Offenders ................................................................... 457
2. The Ninth Circuit’s Approach Promotes Reduction of
Sentencing Disparity Between Similar Offenders ....... 460
3. Departure from the Sentencing Guidelines ................ 462
V. CONCLUSION ................................................................................ 463

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