Many criminal codes restrict judicial discretion in imposing prison sentences within sentencing ranges. Depending on whether the seriousness of the criminal activity e.g., the amount of drugs possessed, exceeds a threshold, two almost identical cases may fall in different sentencing ranges. We study the role of sentencing ranges on sentencing decisions and propose two mechanisms that affect sentencing decisions and that work in opposing directions around the threshold: (i) the severity effect and (ii) the reference case effect. The overall sentencing pattern depends on the relative strength of these two mechanisms. To test for the presence and the strength of the mechanisms, we propose an experiment with law students. Specifically, we intend to provide students with vignettes of illustrative criminal cases in which we exogenously vary the seriousness of the criminal activity, the sentencing ranges, and the values of thresholds and then collect their suggested sentences.