Can You Reduce Your Federal Offense Sentencing?

If you have been charged for or convicted of a federal crime, the future probably feels pretty uncertain and your freedom might seem far away. Luckily for many, the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) voted last year to make Amendment 821 Part A and Part B retroactive, which allows certain defendants a chance to get sentencing reductions for federal crimes. Specifically, the USSC has estimated that around 20,000 federal inmates may already be eligible for the benefits of Amendment 821 Part A and Part B now that it is retroactive (with limitations). There’s no better time than right now to see if you can reduce your federal offense sentencing, too.

What are Status Points?

To determine if a defendant can have their federal offense sentencing reduced, Amendment 821 Part A and Part B look at their status points. In this context, status points are criminal history points that are put on a defendant’s record when they commit an “instant offense” while already under a criminal justice sentence, such as probation, parole, imprisonment, or some form of supervised release. Defendants with certain status point totals may be able to use the now-retroactive Amendment 821 Part A/B, depending on their situations.

How Can You Use USSC Amendment 821 Part A?

To qualify for the sentencing reduction allowed under Amendment 821 Part A, the offense in question must have been committed while you were under a criminal justice sentence, as mentioned. Next, you must have a specific amount of status points in your criminal history, which determines what Part A can do for your sentencing reduction.

  • If your total criminal history points are equal to 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8, you might be eligible for a 2-point reduction.
  • If your total criminal history points are 10 or 13, you might be eligible for a 1-point reduction.
  • If your total criminal history points are 0, 6, 9, 11, 12, or 13 or more, you will likely be ineligible.

Also, you must have received a downward departure or variance at the time of your sentencing, and the original sentence imposed must not be lower than what would be possible through Amendment 821 Part A. If you meet these criteria, you can file a motion for resentencing with the help of an attorney.

USSC experts believe that at least 11,000 defendants were made eligible when Amendment 821 Part A became retroactive, so you should talk with a lawyer to see if you are one of those many defendants. The USSC also stated that it believes the average sentence reduction among eligible applicants will either be 106 months or 120 months.

How Can You Use USSC Amendment 821 Part B?

USSC Amendment 821 Part B was made retroactive at the same time as Part A, with a few exceptions. It allows federal sentencing reduction options for people with 0 criminal history points.

Your criminal history points should total 0 if:

  • You have no prior convictions;
  • You only have convictions that fall outside the time limits within sections 4A1.2(d) and 4A1.2(e); or,
  • You have prior convictions that were excluded from criminal history calculations for unique reasons, such as a judge’s discretion in your case.

Eligibility to use USSC Amendment 821 Part B also requires you to meet these additional requirements:

  1. No terrorism adjustment.
  2. No use of violence or violent threats.
  3. No death or serious injury was caused by the offense.
  4. No sex offenses.
  5. No substantial financial hardship was caused by the offense.
  6. No use of dangerous weapons or firearms.
  7. No civil rights offenses.
  8. No adjustments for hate crimes, vulnerable victims, or serious human rights offenses.
  9. No aggravating role while engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise.

Do you meet all the necessary criteria mentioned? If so, you could qualify for a 2-level reduction, assuming that the original imposed sentence is not already lower. The USSC estimates that the average eligible defendant who files a motion for resentencing could see a reduction of 85 months to 70 months.

Keep in mind that once a motion for resentencing is filed, it is essentially out of your control. The judge who reviews your case will do so behind closed doors, not in a courtroom hearing as you might expect. For this reason and more, it is highly advised that you only create and file a motion with an attorney’s guidance.

Who Can Help You Use Amendment 821 Part A or B?

At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, our attorneys have built a reputation for handling complex federal criminal defense cases for defendants in difficult positions. We would be happy to see if you are eligible to use USSC Amendment 821 Part A or Part B to potentially reduce federal sentencing requirements in your case. If you are, we can move forward with the creation and filing of your motion for resentencing in a timely manner to the right court, so you never have to worry about missing any deadlines or making any mistakes. We can provide counsel and legal guidance to Amendment 821 clients nationwide.

See what Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP and our Amendment 821 attorneys can do for you. Call (800) 462-7160 or contact us online now.