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Federal Drug Sentences May Be Reduced

Posted By Berry Law Firm || 7-Oct-2015

Approximately 6,000 inmates are set to be released between October 30th and November 2nd, 2015, as the result of recent changes to the US Sentencing Guidelines.

If you or a loved one has been found guilty in Federal court and incarcerated as a result of an interstate drug stop, drug conspiracy, distribution of a controlled substance, or other Federal drug charge, you may be eligible for a sentence reduction. In April of 2014, the United States Sentencing Commission proposed Amendment 782, which reduces by two levels the offense levels assigned to drug quantities that trigger statutory minimum penalties. Moreover, the Commission also voted to apply the reductions retroactively, meaning that eligible inmates already sitting out their sentences may be able to have their sentences reduced.

For example, a person convicted of a Federal drug charge triggering an “offense level” of 28, would have to serve a mandatory minimum of 60 months in prison, but would most likely have to serve between 78-97 months. Under Amendment 782, however, that person’s “offense level” would be lowered to a 26 and the sentence would mostly likely be closer to the 60 month statutory minimum sentence (with a guideline range of 63-78 months). Because the change applies retroactively, the lowered guidelines apply to many people currently incarcerated. Amendment 782 took effect November 1, 2014 but release of inmates was delayed until November 1, 2015 in order to give courts and probation offices a chance to prepare.

This change to the sentencing guidelines was made primarily to reduce overcrowding in federal prisons. When applied retroactively, the Commission estimates that 46,000 prisoners could have their sentences reduced by an estimated average of 18%. In order to reduce the burden on probation offices, approximately one-third of the initial 6,000 inmates released later this month will be non-citizens who will most likely be subject to immediate deportation. Thus, they will not be on supervised release and will not need to be monitored as long as inmates who are citizens.

Courts have been taking petitions for reductions over the past year but any orders issued as a result of the new guidelines were not to go in effect until later this month. It is not too late for inmates to apply for reductions, however, not every Federal inmate qualifies for a reduction and reductions do not affect mandatory minimum sentences.

What does this mean for you or your loved ones? The attorneys at Berry Law Firm understand that sentencing guidelines can be confusing but there is still time to apply for a reduction. Berry Law Firm has extensive experience with interstate drug stops, drug conspiracies, distribution of a controlled substance, and Federal sentencing guidelines and has the expertise to help you take advantage of Amendment 782. If you would like more information, please give them a call at 402.466.8444.