Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) that I have put together about Amendment 782, the so-called “Drugs Minus 2” amendment to the federal sentencing guidelines.
1. When can I file for relief? Do I need a lawyer?
Answer: Amendment 782 and retroactive application of the amendment does not go into effect until November 1, 2014.
I personally believe that individuals receive better outcomes when they are represented by an attorney. Keep in mind that relief under the amendment is discretionary. So you need to put forth the best arguments on why you should be given relief. The court will consider a variety of factors, and you want to present yourself in the best possible light to the court.
If you would like to hire me to work on the motion for you, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com. Family members can also request an appointment to speak with me by filling out the appointment form on my website at http://ift.tt/17bXkpE . Just look for the “appointment form” link in the upper right hand portion of the page. I am only going to accept a limited number of retroactivity clients, so contact me soon if you are interested in hiring me. For the clients that I do take on, I will be working over the next several months to prepare polished motions in their cases, and to file for relief on November 1, 2014.
If you do not have the funds to hire an attorney, you can ask the court to appoint you one. Alternatively, you may seek relief yourself. I do not encourage the use of “form” motions. The court needs to consider the individual merits of YOUR case and why YOU should be granted relief.
2. I received a mandatory minimum sentence. Do I qualify for a reduction?
Answer: Individuals who received a mandatory minimum sentence are not eligible for a reduction pursuant to this amendment UNLESS the person received (a) the safety valve or (b) a reduced sentence because of cooperation.
3. I am a career offender. Can I receive a reduction?
Answer: Career offenders can only receive a reduction if the amount of drugs in their offense produced a HIGHER guideline range than what the career offender guideline calls for. (Example: Career offender guideline produces a base offense level of 36. Drug guideline produces a base offense level of 38. Because the base offense level for the drugs is HIGHER than the career offender guideline, the career offender can apply for relief. Example number two: Career offender guideline produces a base offense level of 36. Amount of drugs in the offense creates a base offense level under USSG 2D1.1 of 24. In this situation, the defendant would NOT be eligible for relief because the career offender guideline range is higher than than the base offense level for the underlying drug offense.)
4. I cooperated. Can I benefit?
Answer: Individuals who cooperated with the Government can receive a reduction in sentence just like everyone else. Example: Defendant’s guideline range was 121-151 months. Because of cooperation, the court imposed a sentence of 61 months, which represents a 60 month departure from the low-end of the Guideline range. Under the amendment, the defendant’s amended guideline range is 97-121 months. The court is then free to a impose a sentence of 37 months, or 60 months less than the low-end of the amended guideline range (the Commission calls this a “proportional reduction”).
5. I received a variance at sentencing. How will the amendment affect me?
Answer: Individuals who received a variance sentence may or may not benefit. Under the terms of the amendment, the court may not impose a sentence below the amended guideline range. Example: Original guideline range was 121-151 months, but the defendant received a variance sentence of 100 months. Amendment produces an adjusted guideline range of 97-121 months. The court in such a situation may not reduce the defendant’s sentence to lower than 97 months. Example number two: Original guideline range was 121-151 months, but the defendant received a variance sentence of 60 months. Amendment produces an adjusted guideline range of 97-121 months. The court may not grant relief pursuant to the amendment.
6. What do you mean when you say a “variance” in question four?
Answer: A variance is a departure from the guideline range for non-cooperation reasons.
7. Can I benefit from the amendment if I am currently incarcerated for a supervised release violation?
Answer: No. USSG 1B1.10 prohibits retroactive application of amendments to individuals who are serving revocation sentences.
8. What’s the soonest I can be released under the amendment?
Answer: No person may be released before November 1, 2015. However, the court is free to take up and grant your motion on or after November 1, 2014. For practical purposes, it is essential to apply for relief as soon as the amendment takes effect on November 1, 2014, so the BOP can start getting your release preparation requirements in place. For example, if someone will receive time served effective November 1, 2015, the BOP will likely place the offender in a halfway house in May 2015 or earlier to ensure appropriate transitional services.
9. My out date is before November 1, 2015. Can I benefit?
Answer: Unfortunately, no. No person can be released before November 1, 2015, in accordance with the terms of the amendment.