On April 30, 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress an Amendment that would reduce the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenses. The Amendment will reduce the base offense levels assigned to quantities that trigger the statutory mandatory minimum penalties. This Amendment is scheduled to go into effect on November 1, 2014, and will apply retroactively. Practically, what does this mean?
Unless Congress disapproves the Amendment, beginning November 1, 2014, eligible incarcerated offenders can ask courts to reduce their sentences. Offenders whose requests are granted by the courts can be released no earlier than November 1, 2015. According to the Commission, there are an estimated 46,000 offenders that may benefit from the retroactive application of the Amendment, and the average sentence reduction is approximated to be 18 percent.
The Amendment will apply to most drug offenders convicted of drug trafficking offenses. There will be no eligibility limitations based on criminal history, violence, weapons, or the type of drug trafficked, but those are certainly factors that the court can consider when determining whether to grant a sentence reduction.
No one will automatically receive a sentence reduction. If an offender is eligible for a reduction, a district court judge will review his or her case and decide whether a sentence reduction is appropriate. The judge will consider many factors such as the nature and circumstances of the offense, the characteristics of the offender, public safety and deterrence. For legal advice on how to file a motion for a sentence reduction, it is important to contact an experienced Manhattan or Brooklyn criminal defense attorney.
The Amendment has received tremendous support because of increasing prison costs, overcrowded prison populations, and outrage on behalf of non-violent drug offenders who have been sentenced to decades in prison.
This Amendment is going to have a huge impact on many offenders currently behind bars as well as their families who are waiting for their release. If you have been charged with a federal drug offense, it is important to consult with a seasoned Manhattan or Brooklyn criminal defense attorney.