Proposed Amendments to Career Offender Guidelines

U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2016 Proposed Amendment

To Career Offender Guidelines

     For many federal prisoner’s a Career Offender Guideline sentence proves to be a very lengthy sentence premised largely upon the offender’s prior criminal record involving crimes of violence or controlled substances offenses.  But recently, the Career Offender (and Armed Career Criminal) sentencing provisions have come under much scrutiny due to the vagueness of what is known as the “residual clause” of both provisions.  (The “residual clause” is defined as “or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.”)  In light of the scrutiny centered around the vagueness of the “residual clause,”  the United States Sentencing Commission met on January 8, 2016 and submitted its proposed amendments to the 2016 U.S. Sentencing Guidelines to substantially cure the vagueness of the “residual clause,” among other things.

  In order to be classified as a career offender under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, an offender must currently be convicted of a violent or controlled substance offense and have at least two prior convictions for either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. (But not mere simple possession of narcotics) 

However, the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s recently proposed amendments to the Career Offender Guidelines, which would have a prospective August 1, 2016 effective date, seeks to effect said guidelines in the following ways:

  • Excises the “residual clause” from the Career Offender Guideline in totality.
  • Disqualifies “burglary of a dwelling” as an offense that triggers the Career Offender enhancement.  (However, prior burglary offenses involving violence are subject to a possible upward departure (increased sentence) although the career offender enhancement may not apply.)
  • Provides a downward departure (decreased sentence) for cases in which one or both of defendants’ two prior felony convictions are based on an offense that was classified as a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing for the instant federal offense. (See U.S.S.G. 4B1.1 Application Note 4)

Across the country, many defendants are classified as career offenders yearly due to having prior burglary or fleeing and eluding convictions. (The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals recently in U.S. v. Townsend, 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22489 (3d Cir. 2015) ruled that fleeing and eluding convictions can not trigger the Career Offender enhancement.)  In many cases, whether a defendant qualifies as a Career Offender can be a very difficult assessment due to the complexity and intricacies of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.  In light of this fact, you and your loved ones deserve competent advocacy through experienced counsel to pose comprehensive arguments which render the Career Offender enhancements inapplicable. 

At the Law Office of Roy L. Galloway, LLC, we make very searching assessments into these matters founded on a guided working knowledge of these sophisticated guidelines which ultimately spells significant relief for our clients.  When faced with the very debilitating experience of having to be incarcerated, our only aims are that you and your loved ones are separated for the least amount of time as possible.That is why having Attorney Roy Galloway at your side in court is your only sensible option. Please contact us today at 717-737-3300.