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Key Dates and Deadlines for Amendment 821 Retroactivity

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Key Dates and Deadlines for Amendment 821 Retroactivity

The recent passage of Amendment 821 by the U.S. Sentencing Commission has big implications for folks facing federal charges or already serving federal prison sentences. This amendment, which goes into effect February 1st, 2024, adjusts how criminal history points are calculated and rewards cooperation with authorities in new ways. The changes can really impact sentencing for healthcare workers and others embroiled in federal cases. Let’s break down exactly what Amendment 821 means and key dates to know.

What is Amendment 821?

Amendment 821 amends the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines around a few key areas:

  • Reduces sentence length recommendations for certain drug offenses
  • Changes how criminal history points are calculated, which could reduce sentences
  • Expands criteria for judges to go below mandatory minimums
  • Rewards cooperating with authorities in new ways

This amendment passed August 31st, 2023 with some sections retroactive starting February 1st, 2024. The U.S. Sentencing Commission said the changes could allow around 550 federal prisoners to seek reduced sentences right away, with many more able to seek reductions over time. This is a big deal!

Who Can Benefit from Amendment 821?

The folks who stand to gain the most from Amendment 821 are:

  • People facing federal drug charges
  • People with past non-violent convictions now counted less severely
  • People cooperating with authorities against bigger fish
  • People already serving federal prison sentences if they meet criteria

This includes physicians, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare workers embroiled in “pill mill” investigations or facing federal drug distribution charges. Even folks already convicted and imprisoned may be able to get their sentences reduced starting February 1st, 2024.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Here are some key Amendment 821 dates to know:

  • August 31st, 2023 – Amendment 821 passed by U.S. Sentencing Commission
  • February 1st, 2024 – Parts A and B retroactively take effect, prisoners can apply for reductions
  • November 1st, 2023 – Non-retroactive parts take effect for new cases
  • One year from sentencing – Deadline for prisoners sentenced under old guidelines to apply for reduction

Prisoners have just one year from their sentencing date to apply for a sentence reduction under Amendment 821. For anyone newly sentenced after November 1st, 2023, the new guidelines apply immediately. But for those already serving federal time, February 1st is the big date when retroactive portions kick in.

How Much Could Sentences Be Reduced?

The sentence reduction for any prisoner will depend on individual circumstances. But according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the average decrease is around 17% or 29 months. For drug offenses, the reduction is estimated to be 25% or 50 months on average!

Even a 17% decrease in prison time is substantial. The expanded rewards for cooperating with authorities against bigger players could also shave years off sentences. This is why Amendment 821 is so monumental.

What Should You Do Now?

If you or a loved one is facing federal charges, be sure to discuss Amendment 821 with your defense lawyer. This could really impact the strategy and outcome of your case, especially for drug offenses. Don’t leave sentence reductions on the table!

If currently serving a federal sentence, connect with a post-conviction relief attorney ASAP to see if you qualify for a reduction. You generally need to apply within one year of sentencing, so February 1st, 2024 will kick off a flurry of filings.

The attorneys at Chapman Law Group stay on top of changes like Amendment 821 that can make a difference. Call them today for a free case review. Don’t wait, federal cases often move quickly, and you need advice from a top white collar criminal defense lawyer from the start. Chapman Law Group has helped many healthcare professionals fight federal charges and get sentences reduced.

With Amendment 821 now passed, you have more options than ever before. But you need to understand the details and act quickly. Call Chapman Law Group now to see if you can get your federal sentence reduced under this new guideline.


[1] U.S. Sentencing Commission Reader-Friendly Version of Amendment 821

[2] U.S. Sentencing Commission Preliminary Text of Amendment 821

[3] Federal Register Notice of Amendment 821

[4] Federal Register PDF of Amendment 821

[5] Chapman Law Group Article on Amendment 821

[6] Chapman Law Group Article on Federal Sentence Reductions

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