Offense Level

Judges are required to consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to determine sentences based primarily on two factors: a defendant’s offense level (the seriousness of the offense), and a defendant’s criminal history.

Ross’s offense level was 43, with no criminal history, and Judge Forrest gave him a double life sentence without parole + 40 years.

  • Jan Slomp’s (top drug seller on Silk Road) offense level was, like Ross’s, 43 [PDF] (reduced from 46 after he pleaded guilty). His sentence was ten years.
  • Jason Hagen’s (biggest meth seller on Silk Road) offense level was 40 [PDF],  His sentence was three years (reduced from six because of agent corruption).
  • Peter Nash’s (top Silk Road admin) offense level was 36 [PDF].  His sentence was 17 months.
The sentencing table determines the
defendant’s sentencing guideline range

Despite similar offense levels, the other judges issued sentences significantly below the guideline range, while Judge Forrest used unproven, uncharged allegations to justify and enhance Ross’s sentence to the maximium possible. This is now a primary argument in the Supreme Court petition [PDF].