Well, not quite yet. But the Sentencing Commission has announced its 2018 Sentencing Guideline Amendments. These amendments will go to Congress, and unless specifically rejected, they will go into effect on November 1, 2018.
Even though these amendments won't go into effect until November, we can argue today that the proposed amendment is evidence of the suggested outcome for these defendants by the sentencing commission.
Not surprisingly a number of the amendments will results in longer sentences for our clients, including a number of fentanyl related enhancements. But one little gem may be helpful for a category of our clients. A new application note to § 5C1.1 recommends no incarceration for defendants who fall in Zones A or B, who have no prior history, and the offense does not involve threats or violence or the possession of a gun. The proposed language reads:
“If the defendant is a nonviolent first offender and the applicable guideline range is in Zone A or B of the Sentencing Table, the court should consider imposing a sentence other than a sentence of imprisonment, in accordance with subsection (b) or (c)(3). See 28 U.S.C. § 994(j). For purposes of this application note, a “nonviolent first offender” is a defendant who has no prior convictions or other comparable judicial dispositions of any kind and who did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in connection with the offense of conviction. The phrase “comparable judicial dispositions of any kind” includes diversionary or deferred dispositions resulting from a finding or admission of guilt or a plea of nolo contendere and juvenile adjudications.”