The Department of Justice Supports Retroactive Application of Pending Reduced Drug Guideline Amendment under Certain Circumstances
As we have detailed in previous blog posts, the United States Sentencing Commission recently proposed amendments to the federal drug trafficking guidelines. The proposed amendment would like lower sentences by an average of 11 months and reduce the number of federal prisoners by an estimated 6,550 within five years, according to Commission estimates. On April 10, 2014, the Sentencing Commission voted unanimously to accept the amendments and lower the base offense levels in the Drug Quantity Table across drug types by two levels.
On June 10, the U.S. Sentencing Commission conducted a public hearing to gather testimony from invited witnesses concerning whether the Commission should designate as retroactive its new proposed guideline that reduces most drug sentences across the board. The Justice Department is urging the Commission to make the new reduced drug guidelines retroactive for some, but not all, prisoners now serving sentences under the old drug guidelines. Specifically, the Justice Department in urging retroactive application for drug trafficking offenders in Criminal History Categories I and II who did not receive: (1) a mandatory minimum sentence for a firearms offense pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); (2) an enhancement for possession of a dangerous weapon pursuant to §2D1.1(b)(1); (3) an enhancement for using, threatening, or directing the use of violence pursuant to §2D1.1(b)(2); (4) an enhancement for playing an aggravating role in the offense pursuant to §3B1.1; or (5) an enhancement for obstruction of justice or attempted obstruction of justice pursuant to §3C1.1..
At the present time, no decision has been made regarding the retroactivity issue. However, the Justice Department’s compromise position is at least a good sign that some prisoners will be able to seek retroactive relief. We will continue to provide updates on this important issue as it develops.
If you or a family member have been charged with a federal drug trafficking offense, are presently awaiting sentencing for a federal drug trafficking offense, or have been convicted of a federal drug trafficking offense, contact us to discuss how this amendment may affect your case.