Federal Drug Guideline Amendment

By August 14, 2015News
Two-Level Reduction for Drugs

Federal Drug Guideline Amendment (782) to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines took effect on November 1, 2014. It results in an across-the-board two-level reduction to the quantity driven offense levels under U.S.S.G. §§ 2D1.1(a)(5) and (c). Defendants whose offense level under the guidelines is determined by reference to the Drug Quantity Table of § 2D1.1(c) and are sentenced on or after November 1, 2014 will be affected by these changes.

Those previously sentenced, either in whole or in part, under guidelines that incorporated the Drug Quantity Table in § 2D1.1(c) may also be able to take advantage of this change. To do so, a motion pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) must be filed. In the District Court for the Western District of Michigan, once such a motion is filed, the sentencing court will then direct the probation department to prepare a report of eligibility.

From there, eligibility determinations, and any sentencing reductions, can be made. No order reducing a sentence due to the guideline changes can take effect until November 1, 2015, but the courts do have authority to entertain the motions prior to that date. The District Court in the Western District of Michigan is handling these motions in order of the defendant’s release date, trying to resolve those with earlier release dates first.

If you or a loved one might be able to benefit from these changes to the federal drug crime amendment, contact our office to discuss eligibility under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2).

Eligibility is not always straightforward.  For example, a common exclusion to eligibility includes those sentenced as career offenders under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1.  Also, these changes affect those sentenced to a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment only in certain circumstances and that must be analyzed carefully.  But, it is important for defendants to keep in mind that these changes can affect anyone whose original sentencing guideline range was affected by § 2D1.1, even if the offense of conviction was not necessarily for drug trafficking. Any defendant sentenced for an offense that involves a cross reference to the § 2D1.1 guideline might benefit.