April 26, 2008
Commentary on the Wesley Snipes Sentence
Wesley Snipes received the maximum sentence for his convictions, a sentence of three years (see here). Co-defendants who were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud the IRS and presenting a false claim to the IRS received 10 years and 4 years and 6 months. A likely question on appeal will be whether Wesley Snipes deserved to receive the maximum penalty as his sentence.
"'Snipes' long prison sentence should send a loud and crystal clear message to all tax defiers that if they engage in similar tax defier conduct, they face joining him and his co-defendants, . . . , as inmates in prison,' said Nathan J. Hochman, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Tax Division." (see press release). But some may question whether an individual should receive the maximum sentence in order to provide deterrence to others. And should a person's celebrity status, warrant the imposition of a harsher sentence?
See also Doug Berman's Sentencing Law & Policy here.
Snipes got the maximum sentence because that's what federal sentencing guidelines said he should get. He wasn't given a harsher sentence because he is a celebrity; the prosecutors simply asked that he not be given a more lenient sentence than the guildines stated because he is a celebrity.
Do the guideline math. Snipes was given the same sentence that anyone in his shoes owing such a large sum of money to the IRS would have gotten.
Posted by: JJ MacNab | Apr 27, 2008 9:27:54 AM