January 16, 2015: United States Sentencing Commission Proposes Significant Changes to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines

On January 16, 2015, The United States Sentencing Commission promulgated for public comment Proposed Amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines. These proposed changes are sweeping in scope and will have an enormous positive impact on federal defendants and if applied retroactively, like the drug minus 2 amendments (also known as the 2 point reduction), may affect thousands of federal inmates. A “reader-friendly” version can be downloaded here. The proposed Guideline Amendments can affect many “white collar” offenders convicted of financial crimes by significantly raising the loss amounts for most fraud, tax, bribery and insider trading cases. By raising the loss amounts to account for inflation since 1989, the Sentencing Commission has effectively lowered the incremental increases in Guideline levels based on loss amounts. For instance, a $1,000,001 loss today results in a 16 point increase whereas if the amendments are approved, such a loss would amount to a 14 point increase. This change alone will save federal defendants (and inmates if applied retroactively) a substantial amount of time in prison. Further the Commission is also “tightening” the practice of holding a federal defendant criminally responsible for “other relevant conduct” and is also clarifying (for the better) and expanding the use of the mitigating role adjustment.

There is nothing certain as to these Guideline Amendments and the final version will not be published until May 2015 and many of these proposals can change.

We urge all to write or email your comments to the USSC at public_comment@ussc.gov. and comments are due by March 18, 2015 . If you have any questions please feel free to call National Prison and Sentencing Consultants at 615-696-6153 or email us at help@nationalprisonconsultants.com