About the Commission

The U.S. Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan, independent agency located in the judicial branch of government, was created by Congress in 1984 to reduce sentencing disparities and promote transparency and proportionality in sentencing.

The Commission collects, analyzes, and distributes a broad array of information on federal sentencing practices.  The Commission also continuously establishes and amends sentencing guidelines for the judicial branch and assists the other branches in developing effective and efficient crime policy. Learn the basics of federal sentencing.



  • Resources
    Glossary of Sentencing Terms

    Unclear about some of the terms found in the Guidelines Manual? This glossary covers everything from “Abuse of Trust” to “Zone D”.

  • Resources
    Ask the HelpLine

    The HelpLine assists judges, probation officers, and practitioners in understanding and applying the guidelines. You can submit your questions electronically or call us directly.

  • Resources
    Decision Trees

    How do the guidelines apply in a case with multiple counts? How do you score criminal history convictions? Follow the decision trees to answer these questions.

  • Resources

    Want to learn more about relevant statutes, case law and guidelines on a specific topic? Discover our primers that focus on topics ranging from drug trafficking to criminal history to supervised release....

  • Resources

    Use these worksheets to help determine the applicable offense level, criminal history score, and guideline range in an individual offender’s case.

  • Resources
    Quick Facts

    Quick Facts publications give readers basic facts about a single area of federal crime in an easy-to-read, two-page format. The Commission releases new Quick Facts periodically.

  • Resources
    Research Notes

    Research Notes give background information on the technical details of the Commission’s data collection process and provide answers to common data analysis questions.