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Sentencing Archives

A Closer Look at First Step Act Changes to 851 Enhancements

The First Step Act is a criminal justice reform bill that has passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate. It has been endorsed by President Trump.

The bill covers lots of subjects but one important one is changes to enhancements for repeat drug offenders. Defense lawyers and federal prosecutors often refer to these as “851 enhancements” after the code section that sets forth the procedures for imposing them.

As the law stands now a defendant convicted of a 10 year minimum federal drug offense with at least one felony drug prior can have his … Read More »



Can I be sentenced for a crime I am found not guilty of?

Imagine the following scenario: you have been charged in a multi-count indictment with several interrelated crimes—one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of structuring. The jury acquitted you of the more serious crime of wire fraud conspiracy, but convicted you of structuring. A good outcome, right? The answer may actually surprise you, as your ultimate sentence can end up being just as high as if you have been convicted of both crimes.

As explained in our federal sentencing page, sentences for federal convictions are decided by the judge, who is required by law to consider a … Read More »



Understanding Career Offender Status in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

We recently published a new page addressing the career offender status in the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.