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Convicted of a Federal drug crime, sentence reforms now in effect

Sentencing guidelines for those convicted of drug crimes have been quite harsh at both state and federal levels, though federal crimes will typically garner a more severe punishment. For those accused of a federal drug crime, reforms to sentencing guidelines have recently taken effect, which may help those who have received a seemingly unfair or overly harsh sentence. For individuals in Florida who are themselves, or who have a loved one, currently serving time for a federal drug offense, these reforms have made it possible to petition to have sentences changed in accordance with these new standards.

Reforms to sentencing guidelines for federal drug crimes were embraced earlier this year, and as of the beginning of November, these reforms have taken effect. While these changes were initially meant to help those who are charged with federal drug offenses in the future, the U.S. Sentencing Commission voted and agreed to apply these sentence reductions retroactively. Those currently serving time can now petition for sentence cuts.

It is believed that these reforms will help a significant amount of federal prisoners achieve early release; however, not all cases will qualify. These reforms will also not change the mandatory minimum sentencing standards. This means that those who have received sentences beyond the minimum and meet all the qualifications for the new guidelines, such as being a non-violent or low-level offender, may be granted a sentence reduction.

While petitioning for a sentence reduction can take time, and there are no guarantees that it will be granted, it is still a worthwhile cause. Florida residents who have been convicted of a federal drug crime — if they qualify — may be able to get out of prison and move on with their lives. For those who have questions about these new sentencing guidelines or need assistance in filing a petition or in the subsequent court hearings, legal help is available to offer guidance and support through this process.

Source:, “Federal Sentencing Reforms Take Effect“, Phillip Smith, Nov. 1, 2014


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