Retroactive – Part A to Amendment 821 of Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Oct 18, 2023

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has made Part A of Amendment 821 (known as the “status point” amendment) to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines retroactive. This amendment may impact inmates who were on probation, parole, or supervised release at the time they committed the federal offense for which they were sentenced. More than 11,000 inmates are expected to benefit from this change in the Guidelines.

Unless Congress intervenes by November 1, 2023, the amendment will apply retroactively to eligible inmates who are currently serving time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If a judge lowers an inmate’s sentence, the inmate will have to wait until at least February 1, 2023 before he or she can be released.

The Commission has also made changes to the Guidelines for “zero-point” offenders with no prior criminal history under Part B, which you can read about here.

What is the Part A amendment?

The Part A amendment limits the criminal history impact of status points under §4A1.1(d) of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, the Part A amendment changes how status points are assessed for some inmates who were on probation, parole, or supervised release at the time that they committed the federal offense for which they were sentenced.

How big of a reduction can inmates get under the Part A amendment?

Eligible inmates may qualify for a 1 or 2-point criminal history reduction. On average, a qualifying inmate can expect a 12% reduction in his or her sentence. For example, an inmate who received a sentence of 120 months may see his sentence reduced to 106 months. Currently, there are nearly 11,500 federal inmates who may qualify for a reduced sentence under this amendment.

Who qualifies for a reduced sentence?

There are four basic steps in determining who qualifies for a reduced sentence under Part A:

Step 1: Did the inmate receive status points?

To be eligible, the defendant must have received points under §4A1.1(d) of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This section calls for a 2-point assessment where the “defendant committed the instant offense while under any criminal justice sentence, including probation, parole, supervised release, imprisonment, work release, or escape status.”

Step 2: Determine the total criminal history points.
  • If the defendant’s criminal history points totaled 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8, then he or she may qualify for a 2 criminal history point reduction.
  • If the defendant’s criminal history points totaled 10 or 13, then he or she may qualify for a 1-point reduction.
Step 3: Determine if there was a downward departure or variance

If the defendant received a sentence lower than the new Guidelines range due to a departure or variance, then he or she likely doesn’t qualify for a sentence reduction.

Step 4: Determine if a mandatory minimum applies

If the defendant was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, the court won’t be able to go any lower than the respective mandatory minimum.

Are reductions automatic?

No, a defendant will typically need to file a motion with the court requesting that his or her sentence be reduced under the new amendment. While the Government can also make this request, a defendant should hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to make sure that his rights are protected and that he receives the lowest sentence possible.

Contact us now

If you know an inmate that may benefit from the Part A amendment, give our federal sentencing lawyers a call at
855-959-4003 or email us here. Johnson/Citronberg is a nationally recognized federal criminal defense law firm based in Alexandria, Virginia and represents individuals in federal courts across the country.

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