December 13, 2016: 2017 Proposed Preliminary United States Sentencing Guidelines Changes Announced

December 13, 2016

On December 9, 2016 the United States Sentencing Commission published its annual Preliminary Proposed Amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. These are preliminary and are subject to public comments and hearings between now and May 2017. However, NPSC and John Webster, its Managing Director, are ecstatic with some of the proposed changes. We believe they will substantially benefit many federal defendants if they are approved. The most significant proposal would provide lower guideline ranges for “first offenders” generally and increase the availability of alternatives to incarceration for offenders at the lower levels of the Sentencing Table. These new Guidelines would apply if [(1) the defendant did not receive any criminal history points under the rules where the defendant has no prior convictions of any kind. Further, Zone C of the Sentencing Table would be eliminated thus permitting a significantly greater number of defendants to be sentenced to non-custodial sentences such as Residential Re-entry Centers and Home Confinement. Clearly, these proposals show that the Commission is certainly beginning to look at ways to reduce the number of Americans incarcerated and is beginning to focus on alternatives to prison. Further, the Commission is proposing changes to the Acceptance of Responsibility provisions along with quite a few technical and substantive proposed changes. The changes to the Acceptance of Responsibility provisions will permit a defendant to make non-frivolous objections to relevant conduct without losing the acceptance of responsibility adjustment pursuant to USSG section 3E.1.1(a) and (b). Again we at NPSC having faced this issue many times, believe this to be a very positive proposed amendment. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact National Prison & Sentencing Consultants at 615-696-6153 or at