Federal Criminal Attorney Hope Lefeber Discusses Amendments to Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The United States Sentencing Commission has voted to reduce drug quantity tables by two levels for most federal drug trafficking offenses. http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/March/14-ag-263.html The drug sentencing guidelines under amendment still would remain linked to statutory mandatory minimum penalties.

The Commission estimates that approximately 70 percent of federal drug trafficking defendants would qualify for reduced sentences under the change, with their sentences decreasing an average of 11 months, or 17 percent, from 62 to 51 months. The Commission projects that the Bureau of Prisons population would drop by 6,550 inmates by the end of five years.

The Drug Quantity Table amendment would:

  • Generally reduce by two levels the base offense levels for all drug types in the Drug Quantity Table in guideline §2D1.1, which governs drug trafficking cases.
  • Ensure the guideline penalties remain consistent with existing five- and ten-year statutory mandatory minimum drug penalties by structuring the Drug Quantity Table so that offenders eligible for the five- and ten-year mandatory minimum penalties would receive base offense levels 24 and 30 (which correspond to a guideline range of 51 to 63 months and 97 to 121 months, respectively), rather than the existing levels of 26 and 32 (which correspond to 63 to 78 months and 121 to 151, respectively).
  • Maintain 38 as the highest base offense level in the drug quantity table for the highest quantities of drugs.

Federal criminal defense attorney Hope C. Lefeber explains that as it stands now, federal drug cases result in too many Americans going to prison for too long, and at times for no truly good public safety reason.

According to testimony by Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. before the U.S. Sentencing Commission on March 13, 2014, although the United States comprises just 5 percent of the world’s population, almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners are incarcerated in American prisons. One in 28 American children currently have a parent behind bars. State and federal governments spent a combined $80 billion on incarceration in 2010 alone.http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2014/March/14-ag-263.html

Lefeber, who has been practicing federal criminal law for more than 30 years and was chosen by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the United States.