Prior to 2005, the sentencing range recommended by the United States Sentencing Guidelines was the range within which a judge had to sentence.  The U.S. Supreme Court gave that discretion back to judges to allow them to take unique circumstances in a defendant’s case into consideration. In United States v. Booker, the Court made the Sentencing Guidelines advisory instead of mandatory.  The Guidelines now only need to be consulted, and so long as that is done, judges are free to impose a sentence that is in their discretion sufficient but not greater than necessary.