Retroactive Sentencing Guidelines in Crack Cocaine Cases

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Retroactive Sentencing Guidelines in Crack Cocaine Cases

Thousands of people convicted of crack cocaine offenses may be eligible for retroactive sentence reductions because of revised guidelines by the U.S. Sentencing Commission. An estimated 19,000 defendants will be impacted by these retroactive changes, which took effect March 3.

However, a sentence reduction isn’t automatic – it must be ordered by a federal judge. To find out whether retroactive changes in crack cocaine sentencing guidelines apply to your case, contact an experienced lawyer from The Kavinoky Law Firm.

Not all crack cocaine defendants will be eligible for a lower sentence. A federal sentencing judge will decide whether the offender is eligible for a lower sentence and how much the sentence will be reduced.

A federal judge determining whether to reduce a crack cocaine offender’s sentence will weigh numerous factors, including whether a reduced sentence will endanger the public.

The impact of these revised guidelines is expected to occur incrementally over the next 30 years, because many crack cocaine offenders will still be required under federal law to serve mandatory five-, ten-, or 20-year sentences even under the revised guidelines.

These latest revisions to the crack cocaine sentencing guidelines are part of an ongoing effort to equalize the punishment for powder and crack cocaine offenses. In its 2002 report to Congress titled “Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy,” the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that the original sentencing guidelines for crack cocaine exaggerated the relative harmfulness of the drug, were too broad and disproportionately targeted lower-level offenders, were disproportionate to the seriousness of the offense, and unfairly impacted minorities.

Between 1995 and 2007, approximately 56,000 defendants were sentenced under the harsher crack cocaine guidelines despite efforts to narrow the disparity between sentences for powder and crack cocaine.

If you or someone you care about was sentenced for a crack cocaine offense during that time period, it may be possible to have the sentence reduced. To learn more about retroactive sentencing guidelines in crack cocaine cases, contact a knowledgeable California lawyer from The Kavinoky Law Firm today for a free consultation.