On April 10th, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to lower the federal narcotic sentencing guidelines by two levels. This would apply to all offenders facing federal drug charge and would result in the average drug sentence being reduced by 11 months. This does not, however, affect mandatory minimums attached to certain drug crimes; someone guilty of a crime with a 5 year mandatory minimum would still be given 5 years in jail, subject to the legality of the mandatory minimum (see our earlier post about mandatory minimums in Pennsylvania being held unconstitutional).
The initial vote by the Sentencing Commission did not make the sentencing guidelines apply retroactively to people who have already been convicted and sentenced, however. But on July 18th, the Sentencing Commission voted to make this change apply retroactively to offenders who have already been found guilty and are serving time. Unless Congress acts to overrule this vote by the Sentencing Commission, this change will allow offenders to go back to court starting on November 1st and to ask the judge who sentenced them to reduce their sentence.
If you believe someone you know might be affected by this change, please contact an attorney at Fairlie & Lippy today.