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Sentencing Commission sends congress ammendment to reduce criminal history score guidelines
October 22, 2011
In a move that potentially could assist thousands of defendants receive lower sentences, the Sentencing Commission has sent Congress a set of proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that will go into effect on November 1, 2010. Proposed Amendment No. 5 will change the way criminal history is calculated and would eliminate the rule that
adds two criminal history points if a crime for which the person is being sentenced is committed less than two years after release from prison. This is also known as the Recency Amendment.
I. HOW CAN THIS CHANGE HELP DEFENDANTS WHO ARE WAITING TO BE SENTENCED?
This amendment which becomes effective November 1, 2010 will enable defendants who have not yet been sentenced
but who have prior criminal convictions to raise the amendment as an issue in their sentencing memoranda to help reduce
their criminal history points and, their sentencing guideline range. Should you have a client that is waiting to be sentenced,
NLPA can assist in the preparation of a sentencing memorandum that would address all appropriate downward departure
issues as well as this important change in the calculation of criminal history to help the defendant receive a much lower
II. CAN THIS AMENDMENT HELP PEOPLE WHO HAVE ALREADY BEEN SENTENCED?
Unfortunately the Commission has not yet agreed to make this new amendment retroactive to apply to cases for individuals
who have already been sentenced. NLPA strongly objects to this position as we believe it adversely impacts upon the due
process rights of defendants who only, due to the time at which they were convicted and sentenced, are being
discriminated against by this new favorable change to the guidelines. If you have a client who has already been sentenced
and could benefit from the Recency Amendment, NLPA is happy to assist in the preparation of a timely appeal or §2255
motion to address this issue including all of the reasons why the amendment should be applied retroactively to your client.
If you are unsure what avenues may exist at this time, NLPA can also prepare a detailed case analysis to look into this
as well as many other possible issues and avenues of relief for your client. If you are interested in having NLPA prepare
a case evaluation, please contact us today!
Also, keep in mind that in the past the guideline amendments have been given retroactive effect. A good example is the
recent crack-cocaine amendment (Amendment 706) which reduced the base offense level for crack cocaine by two levels.
This amendment was approved in 2007. In 2008, in a subsequent amendment (Amendment 713), the Commission added
Amendment 706 to the list of amendments which may be applied retroactively. NLPA believes the criminal history
amendment should be applied retroactively as well.
Based upon the foregoing, when the proposed amendment becomes effective, it should result in lower criminal history
categories for many defendants who have not yet been sentenced and, thus, lower sentencing guideline ranges. However,
for the time being it appears that such benefit will only extend to those sentenced after the amendment goes into effect.
NLPA is proud of its winning track record. We have enjoyed success in helping defendants and their counsel obtain
substantially reduced sentences as the result of the research our team of lawyers have prepared. If you or your client are
in need of assistance in this matter contact NLPA today. After all, the pursuit of justice is a team approach!
NLPA: We Care, We Listen, We Get Results!
NLPA is not a law firm and cannot represent defendants in court. NLPA cannot directly provide legal advice to defendants nor can NLPA offer its research services directly to
defendants. NLPA's team of research attorneys and paralegals provide cutting edge research and consulting assistance to counsel to help provide counsel with the tools needed
to help successfully represent their clients. In order to assist counsel, Bar Association Regulations require that counsel expressly authorize NLPA's research assistance before NLPA
may provide case specific research and analysis of any case. Therefore, a defendant must be represented by counsel licensed to practice in the appropriate court and counsel
must be willing to work with NLPA in order for us to be of assistance. If a defendant is in need of attorney representation, we are happy to refer a number of experienced criminal
defense attorneys who often work with NLPA and offer significantly reduced fees.
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