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Step-by-Step: Applying for a Retroactive Sentence Reduction Under Amendment 821

March 21, 2024 Uncategorized

Step-by-Step: Applying for a Retroactive Sentence Reduction Under Amendment 821

If you’re currently serving a federal prison sentence, you may be eligible for a sentence reduction thanks to a new law called Amendment 821. This amendment makes big changes to the way criminal history points are calculated, which could lower some sentences by a lot! Here’s what you need to know about applying for one of these retroactive sentence reductions.

What is Amendment 821?

Amendment 821 is a change made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to the guidelines judges use for handing out federal sentences. It took effect on November 1, 2023. Some of the changes apply retroactively, which means people already in prison can get their sentences cut short under the new rules.

There are a few parts to Amendment 821. The big one is how it changes the way criminal history points work. It gets rid of points for some older, minor convictions from when you were a kid. It also caps the total points at 10 no matter how long your record is. So people with really long rap sheets can benefit the most.

Amendment 821 also changes some other things, like giving more credit for cooperating with the government and reducing sentences for drug crimes a little bit. But the criminal history stuff is the main part.

Who can get a reduction?

To get a sentence reduction under Amendment 821, you have to meet these criteria:

  • You must have been sentenced before November 1, 2023 when the amendment took effect.
  • Applying the new criminal history rules lowers your sentencing guideline range. If your range stays the same, you don’t qualify.
  • You can’t have a crime of violence or sex offense. Only drug and money crimes are eligible.

The Sentencing Commission estimates around 11,500 people will qualify for reductions averaging 14 months off their sentences. That’s pretty good! But you do have to meet those requirements.

When can you apply?

The commission decided to delay implementing the retroactive part of Amendment 821. That way the courts have time to get ready for all the applications. You can start applying on February 1, 2024.

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2024-03-21
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2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
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2024-03-12
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2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

After that date, get your motion submitted ASAP. The courts will be slammed with thousands of these! You want to get in line early so your case gets heard sooner.

What’s the process to get a reduction?

Here are the steps to go through:

  1. Contact a lawyer and have them review your case. Make sure you actually qualify for a reduction based on your criminal history and the charges you were sentenced for.
  2. Gather documents about your original sentence, like your plea agreement, sentencing transcript, PSR, judgment, etc. Your lawyer will need these.
  3. Have your lawyer draft a motion for a “retroactive sentence reduction” under Amendment 821. This gets filed in the same federal court that handled your original case.
  4. The government will file a response, either supporting or opposing your motion. Your lawyer may need to negotiate with the prosecutor.
  5. The judge will issue a decision. If approved, they will enter an order reducing your sentence to the new guideline range.
  6. The court sends the order to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to recalculate your release date. BOP also handles any halfway house placement.

This process can take many months with the courts so backed up. Be patient as your lawyer works through it. Keep gathering evidence showing your rehabilitation in prison, like completing programs and having a clean record.

How much time can you get off?

There’s no limit on how much your sentence can be reduced under Amendment 821. It all depends on how big the difference is between your original guideline range and the new range under the amended rules. Some examples:

  • If you got 20 years before but your new range is 10 years, you could potentially get a 10 year reduction.
  • If you got 10 years before but your new range is 5 years, you may get 5 years off.
  • Even 1 year reductions help and are possible for smaller changes in the range.

Keep in mind the reduction is not automatic. The judge will look at factors like your disciplinary record in prison, rehab efforts, risk to public safety, etc. But the point is, big reductions in your sentence are allowed under Amendment 821 in some cases.

What should you do now?

Don’t wait! Act now if you think you may qualify for a sentence reduction:

  • Contact criminal defense lawyers with experience on retroactive sentence motions.
  • Ask family to research lawyers and find out fees. Come up with a plan to hire one.
  • Start collecting all documents about your original sentence and conviction.
  • Stay disciplinary-free in prison and sign up for programs – this helps show the judge you deserve a reduction.
  • Tell your family the potential news and ask for their support. This will impact them too!

Move fast so you are ready to file your motion on February 1st. The courts will be flooded with these, so you want to get in line ASAP. Don’t miss out on the shorter sentence you deserve under Amendment 821!

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