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Juror who prompted calls for new Ghislaine Maxwell trial turns to lawyer who defended Anna Sorokin.
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Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 10:57 pm
If you or a loved one is currently incarcerated in the federal prison system, you may have heard talk about something called Amendment 821 and wondered, “Could this new law help me or my family member get out of prison early?” This amendment, passed by the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2023, retroactively reduces sentences for some federal crimes by changing the sentencing guidelines judges use. But who actually qualifies for relief under Amendment 821? And how much time could you realistically shave off a sentence if eligible? Let’s break it down.
First, a quick primer on what Amendment 821 actually is. In April 2023, the Sentencing Commission approved changes to the federal sentencing guidelines as part of the 2023 Criminal History Amendment. This included two key parts:
The Commission voted to apply these changes retroactively back to February 1, 2024. This means some people already serving time under the old guidelines could now be eligible for reduced sentences.
The Sentencing Commission estimates around 19,000 current federal inmates could benefit from retroactive application of Amendment 821. But not everyone will qualify. Here are the basic eligibility requirements you or your loved one must meet:
Let’s go through each of these in more detail:
This one is straightforward – in order to get a retroactive reduction, you had to have been originally sentenced before the amendment took effect on February 1, 2024. If you were sentenced after this date, you automatically got the benefit of the reduced guidelines at your initial sentencing. No need to apply retroactively.
Just because Amendment 821 reduces sentences for some offenses doesn’t mean everyone will qualify. You or your lawyer will need to obtain a copy of your sentencing documents and carefully recalculate your guideline range as if Amendment 821 had been in effect. If your original sentence length is already at or below the new range, you likely won’t be eligible for a further reduction.
Even if your sentence checks out, you still can’t have any disqualifying factors that exclude you from retroactive relief under Amendment 821. These include:
So if any of those apply, unfortunately you are out of luck in terms of getting a reduced sentence under this amendment.
The final hurdle is that you must affirmatively file a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. §3582(c)(2), and a federal judge must approve you. There are no guarantees – even if you’re eligible on paper, the judge may still deny your request for a variety of reasons.
The earliest you can file is February 1, 2024. If approved, the soonest your sentence could be reduced is also February 2024. Consult an experienced federal criminal defense attorney for guidance navigating this complex process.
For those eligible for retroactive relief under Amendment 821, how much time could you realistically get shaved off your prison sentence? Here are some key factors that impact the potential sentence reduction amount:
According to the Sentencing Commission, the average reduction for eligible inmates is projected to be around 14 months. But for some, it could be just a few months, while others may see reductions of a year or even more depending on the circumstances.
If you think you or your incarcerated loved one may be eligible for a sentence reduction under Amendment 821, here are some suggested steps:
It’s a complex process with strict eligibility criteria, so consulting an attorney experienced in post-conviction relief is highly recommended. But for some inmates, applying for a reduction under Amendment 821 could mean getting out of prison months or even years early. Don’t hesitate to explore the possibility if you or a loved one may qualify.
With a good lawyer’s help, you can determine if you meet the criteria, estimate your potential reduction, and get fully prepared to file on February 1st when the application window opens. It could make all the difference as you or your family member works toward rebuilding your life after release. Best of luck!
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