The case of United States v. Spriggs, 23 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. C692 (11th Cir. January 10, 2012) considered an appeal which raised an issue that has resulted in significant increases of the sentencing guidelines in child pornography cases.
In 1987 Congress passed sentencing guidelines establishing the maximum and minimum punishments that people should receive for federal crimes. The guidelines take into account the severity of the crime and the defendant's past criminal record to come up with a suggested sentence. However, there are certain factors that will allow a judge to make a downward departure from the suggested minimum sentence for a federal criminal offense.