WHAT IS SENTENCING MANIPULATION
Sentencing manipulation is when law enforcement takes some kind of action to increase the defendant’s potential sentence. Sentencing manipulation is different then entrapment in the fact that entrapment requires law enforcement to cause a defendant to commit a crime that he was not otherwise predisposed to commit. While in sentencing manipulation the defendant might already be predisposed to committing the crime, but the government takes action to increase the sentence.
The exact definition of sentencing manipulation is not clear. In Florida there are some cases to suggest that if law enforcement keeps coming back to sell drugs to the defendant over and over again the court can sentence the defendant to the same sentence he would have received if he was arrested after the first sell. However sentencing manipulation can not be used to give the defendant a lower sentence then the defendant would have received had the government not manipulated the sentence.
There is also some law to suggest that if the police just sit back and watch a defendant committing crimes like selling drugs that sentencing manipulation would apply. However if law enforcement is watching crimes takes place for any other purpose that the argument of sentencing manipulation does not apply. For example if law enforcement waits to arrest a defendant engaged in conspiring to traffick in drugs for the purpose of uncovering the conspiracy, then the defendant can not argue sentencing manipulation.
The last example is kind of interesting, because whether or not the court can give the defendant a lower sentence rest on the actions/intent of law enforcement, and is not based on the actions of the defendant.
USE OF SENTENCING MANIPULATION IN COURT
Sentencing manipulation is rarely used in court. Chances are most attorneys and judges don’t know what it is. It is used so rarely that most judges will probably not be comfortable applying a sentencing manipulation analysis.