Federal Drug Sentences May Be Reduced

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, good news may be coming soon. In April of this year, 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. This will lead directly to reduced sentences.

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 78­97 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 63­78 months). Moreover, the amended sentencing guidelines are retroactive. This means that the lowered guidelines apply to many people currently incarcerated.

Amendment 782 does not take effect until November 1, 2014 unless Congress modifies or strikes down the Amendment. 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%. The reductions do not take place immediately, however, nor do they apply automatically.

In order to allow courts and the prison system adequate time to prepare for the influx of applications, the Commission has added an amendment to 782 requiring courts to wait until November 1, 2015 to allow orders reducing imprisonment. Once the amendment is adopted, courts will most likely be able to receive petitions to reduce sentences, but any orders issued as a result of the new guidelines cannot be dated before November 1st, 2015. In order to have a sentenced reduced, those affected will most likely have to file a petition in order to take advantage of the reduction.

What does this mean for you or your loved ones? The attorneys at Berry Law understand that sentencing guidelines can be confusing. Luckily, because reductions will not take place until November 1st, 2015, there is plenty of time to prepare and file a petition for a reduced sentence. The attorneys at Berry Law have extensive experience with interstate drug stops, drug conspiracies, distribution of a controlled substance, and Federal sentencing guidelines and have the expertise to help you take advantage of Amendment 782. If you would like more information, please give us a call at (402) 817-6550

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