Recently Proposed Federal Drug Trafficking Sentence Reduction

The Philadelphia lawyer discusses her view on the United States Sentencing Commission's proposed amendments for the 2013-14 amendments cycle, featuring the sentencing guidelines for federal drug trafficking offenses.

Philadelphia, PA January 21, 2014 - Federal Drug Trafficking Sentence

Last week, the U.S. Sentencing Commission held a public meeting and voted to publish proposed amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines, asking for comment on the potential reduction to drug trafficking sentences. The proposed amendments are part of their proposed guideline amendments for the 2013 – 14 amendments cycle. Hope C. Lefeber, chosen by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the United States, highlights the proposed changes for drug trafficking violations and her expert opinion on the situation.

The bipartisan Sentencing Commission proposed to lower the base offense levels for those who commit drug trafficking violations by two levels within the drug quantity table . U.S.S.G. §2D1.1, of the federal sentencing guideline manual that currently governs drug trafficking cases.

With the proposed guideline amendments, the Commission looks to reduce the costs of incarceration and overcapacity of prisons, while still keeping the public safe from dangerous criminals. Currently drug trafficker offenders currently make up about half of the federal prison population.

According to a news release published by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Commission found that “a change in the guidelines would result in a reduction of approximately 11 months for those drug trafficking offenders who would benefit, resulting in a reduction in the federal prison population of approximately 6,550 inmates by the fifth year after the change.” The Commission also calls for action from Congress to reduce mandatory minimum penalties to be consistent with the severity of the offense.

“While the proposition is a step in the right direction by reducing the overly draconian federal drug guidelines, it does nothing to correct the statutory mandatory minimum sentences, which result in the greatest injustice,” said Lefeber. “The statutory mandatory minimums are mandatory and the judges have no discretion and must impose them whether they want to or not. The guidelines are advisory, so judges use them as a guide, and usually follow them, but can grant variances from the guidelines.”

About Hope C. Lefeber:
Hope C. Lefeber is a practicing federal criminal defense attorney in New York City and Philadelphia. She is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers University School of Law. Ms. Lefeber is a member of The National Trial Lawyers Association, Federal Bar Association, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Philadelphia Bar Association and numerous other criminal defense groups. Ms. Lefeber has represented many high-profile clients, published numerous articles, lectured on federal criminal law issues, taught Continuing Legal Education classes to other criminal defense lawyers and has appeared on television news as a legal expert. Ms. Lefeber specializes in the defense of white-collar crime, drug crimes and appeals and is the managing member of her New York City-based law firm, Hope C. Lefeber, LLC.

About the U.S. Sentencing Commission:
The United States Sentencing Commission, a bipartisan independent agency in the judicial branch of the federal government, was organized in 1985 to develop a national sentencing policy for the federal courts. The resulting sentencing guidelines structure the courts’ sentencing discretion to help ensure that similar offenders who commit similar offenses receive similar sentences.

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