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U.S. Attorney General Announces Changes in Policy

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In a memo dated August 12, 2013, the U.S. Attorney General announced a change in department policy on the charging of mandatory minimum sentences and recidivist enhancements in certain drug cases.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Federal Drug Crimes Defense Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

Attorney General Holder announced on August 12, 2013 that federal prosecutors should utilize discretion in charging certain non-violent, low-level drug offenders.  In the three-page memo he noted "[i]n some cases, mandatory minimum and recidivist enhancemeents statutes have resulted in unduly harsh sentences and perceived or actual disparities that do not reflect our Principles of Federal Prosecution."  Among the reasons for the departures, he noted rising prison costs, increased spending on law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and prevention and intervention programs.  He stressed that reductions in public safety spending requires "us to make our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive."

What's to be considered?  Minimums for Drug Quantity

  • The use of violence in the commission of the crime (possession of a weapon);

  • Whether the defendant was an organizer, leader, or manager;

  • Whether there are significant ties to a large-scale drug traffickinig organization;

  • Whether the defendant has a significant criminal history.

What's to be considered?  Recidivist Enhancements

  • Whether the defendant is an organizer, leader, manager or supervisor of others;

  • Whether there was a use of violence or threat of violence;

  • The nature of the defendant's prior history;

  • Whether the defendant has significant ties to large-scale drug trafficking;

  • Whether there would be a gross sentencing dispartity with equally or more culpable co-defendants; and

  • Other case-specific aggravating factors.

If you've been federally investigated or indicted for a drug offense, you need competent federal legal defense counsel to assist you in the preparation of your defense.  You may contact Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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