In 2010, former President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act. It was intended to reduce unfair sentencing disparities in offenses involving crack cocaine. The problem was that the Fair Sentencing Act did not apply to offenders that were sentenced before its passage. So, there are now people in federal prison who are serving sentences under the old law, who would be sentenced to substantially less time in prison if they were sentenced under the new law – for the same crime!
In December 2016, President Obama took steps to correct this situation. He commuted the sentences of eight men and woman who had served more than 15 years in prison for crack cocaine offenses. The offense was the first offense for two of these people – but because the sentence was mandatory the court had no discretion.
President Obama has directed that he will consider additional applications for commutation of sentence to restore fairness and proportionality to people that deserve that consideration. The United States Department of Justice is committed to finding additional people who might qualify for clemency.
Qualifying for Clemency
To qualify for potential clemency, a candidate must have a clean prison record, do not present a threat to public safety, and were sentenced under out of date laws that have since been modified because the laws were no longer considered appropriate. Clemency is not being limited to just crack offenders, although they are the most obvious candidates. People incarcerated for other offenses may be entitled to a commuted sentence if they meet the following six criteria: they must be (1) inmates who are currently serving a federal sentence in prison and, by operation of law, likely would have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of the same offense today; (2) are non-violent, low-level offenders without significant ties to large scale criminal organizations, gangs or cartels; (3) have served at least 10 years of their sentence; (4) do not have a significant criminal history; (5) have demonstrated good conduct in prison; and (6) have no history of violence prior to or during their current term of imprisonment.
It is important that the federal government is taking appropriate steps to correct the mistakes of the prior law.
Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney – Federal Commutation of Sentencing
If you know someone who could possibly qualify for a sentence reduction based on the change in sentencing laws, it is important that you have the assistance of someone that understands the system and works in federal court on a regular basis. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have many years of experience practicing in federal court and have a knowledge of federal law and procedure that is unparalleled. If you have questions regarding possible clemency or anything related to federal law, the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. are available to help. Please contact us at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and one of our attorneys will contact you.
“We will find a way to help you and, most importantly,
we are not afraid to win!“
– LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C.