The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently announced that a major amendment to Section 4C1.1 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which applies to zero-point offenders, will become retroactive. This means that potentially thousands of federal inmates could have their sentences reduced and get out of prison early.
The amendment to Section 4C1.1 deals with “zero-point offenders” and gives such individuals a two-level reduction on their total offense level. The amendment is set to take effect on November 1, 2023 (unless Congress acts to stop the change). On average, we expect for this reduction to help qualifying individuals shave six to twelve months off their sentences.
What are the qualifying factors?
To qualify for this two-level reduction, an offender must meet the following criteria:
- No criminal history points;
- No adjustment for terrorism (§ 3A1.4);
- No violence or credible threats of violence in connection with the offense;
- No death or serious bodily injury;
- Not a sex offense;
- No substantial financial hardship (determined independently of § 2B1.1(b)(c);
- Did not possess, receive, purchase, transport, transfer, sell, or otherwise dispose of a firearm or other dangerous weapon;
- Not an offense involving individual rights (§ 2H1.1);
- Did not receive an adjustment under § 3A1.1 (hate crime motivation or vulnerable victim) or § 3A1.5 (serious human rights offense); and,
- Did not receive an adjustment under § 3B1.1 (aggravating role) and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Who will the zero-point amendment help?
We expect the amendment to help individuals convicted of fraud offenses and low-level drug offenses the most. Since the Sentencing Commission has decided to make the amendment retroactive, inmates who qualify and are currently incarcerated can take advantage of the change. But there is a catch. The Commission has decided to not make the change retroactive until February 1, 2023. This means that a judge cannot sign an order releasing someone early until at least that date.
Our federal sentencing attorneys have extensive experience in helping individuals accused and convicted of federal offenses receive the lowest possible sentences. If you think that you or someone you know could benefit from the recent change in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, give our federal sentencing lawyers a call at 703-684-8000.