Top Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Leonard on proposed Federal Sentencing Guidelines Amendments regarding Criminal History. As indicated in a prior blog, the United States Sentencing Commission has made certain recommendations regarding proposed Amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. One such Amendment addresses the manner in which a defendant’s Criminal History is calculated and determined. More specifically, the Amendments would eliminate, for the most part, the 2 points that have been historically added where the defendant has committed the charged federal criminal offense while under a criminal justice sentence from another matter. Accordingly, federal criminal defense attorneys can start objecting to this enhancement by arguing to the Court that it will likely not even apply in several months.
Another important proposed Amendment with respect to Criminal History relates to defendants who have no Criminal History points at all, in other words, those who have “zero” Criminal History points – as opposed to zero Criminal History at all. In such instances, pursuant to a new Guideline, Section 4C1.1., such a defendant would actually have a 2-point reduction. This is great news for many federal defendants. However, like many issues arising under the Guidelines, the “devil is in the details.” The proposed Amendment with respect to this issue has quite a bit of criteria that must first be satisfied.
Finally, the proposed Amendment with respect to Criminal History recognize the unfairness that often arises out of a defendant’s prior conviction for simple possession of marijuana. The Sentencing Commission has provided examples and suggested a “downward departure” where such a prior conviction contributes to the overstatement of a defendant’s Criminal History. That too may have application for a lot of federal defendants.
We will continue to address other proposed Amendments in these blogs.
Written by Michael Leonard
Leonard Trial Lawyers
April 14, 2023