Changes to Sentencing Guidelines May Allow for Sentence Reductions

 Posted on November 22,2023 in Criminal Defense

Sentence Reduction

The United States has a problem with mass incarceration. Defendants who are charged with crimes will often face lengthy prison sentences, even for low-level, non-violent offenses. In many cases, these sentences do not have the desired effect of rehabilitating prisoners and ensuring that they will be able to successfully re-enter society after serving time in prison. Families will often struggle due to the loss of financial support from a person who is incarcerated. After being released, the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction may limit a person’s opportunities, leading them to engage in illegal activities that could result in additional criminal charges and longer periods of incarceration following a subsequent conviction.

Because of these concerns, government officials are looking to implement new policies that are meant to reduce sentences for some prisoners and ensure that they can be rehabilitated and reintegrate into society after being released. Recently, some changes have been made to the guidelines for sentencing in federal criminal cases, and some prisoners may be able to have their sentences reduced. To understand how these guidelines may apply for people who have been convicted of different types of crimes, prisoners can work with an experienced attorney who can help them take the proper steps to reduce their sentences.

Sentencing Commission Allows for Retroactive Application of Criminal History Amendments

In April of 2023, the United States Sentencing Commission made some amendments to the criminal sentencing guidelines that are used to determine the sentences that may be imposed for defendants who are convicted of federal crimes. These amendments went into effect on November 1, 2023. 

One amendment addressed the “status points” that may be assigned to defendants who are charged with criminal offenses while on probation, parole, supervised release, work release, or during imprisonment. Studies have found that these status points do not accurately predict possible recidivism. By limiting the effect that these status points may have in certain cases, this amendment is meant to ensure that appropriate sentences will be put in place.

Another amendment allows for a decrease in offense levels in certain cases. For defendants without a history of violent crimes or other serious offenses who are facing charges that do not involve aggravating factors, offense levels may be decreased by two levels, allowing for shorter prison sentences or sentences that do not involve incarceration. Because people without criminal histories have low rates of recidivism, this amendment can help them avoid the consequences of imprisonment.

These changes to the guidelines may benefit people who are charged with crimes and who may face imprisonment or other sentences upon being convicted. However, criminal justice advocates have also called for the changes to apply to people who had previously been convicted. In response, the Sentencing Commission voted to make these changes retroactive. Starting on February 1, 2024, people who are currently incarcerated may receive resentencing based on the amended guidelines. The Commission has estimated that nearly 19,000 defendants may be eligible for sentence reductions under these amendments.

Contact Our Hartford Federal Crimes Defense Lawyer

Defendants who have been charged with federal crimes may face a number of difficulties as they defend against a conviction or advocate for appropriate sentences. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, our Connecticut federal charges defense attorney can provide representation in these cases, helping defendants take the correct steps to protect their rights. We can also help people who have been convicted of federal crimes request sentence reductions under the new guidelines. To learn more about how we can assist with these or other criminal cases, contact us at 860-290-8690 and schedule a free consultation.

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