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No matter the case, we’re dedicated to finding the best possible outcome. While we can’t guarantee a particular result, we’ll fight for you at every turn and with our experience, we’ve likely handled a case like yours.

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New Federal Sentencing Guidelines: Can You Get a Sentence Reduction?

In August 2023, the U.S. Sentencing Commission made significant changes to the federal sentencing guidelines that could result in shorter prison sentences for thousands of individuals. If you have a loved one who is currently incarcerated or awaiting sentencing, it’s crucial to understand these revisions and how they might impact their case.

If you believe your loved one may qualify for a sentence reduction under the updated guidelines, seek legal assistance from an experienced criminal defense attorney at Harrison & Hart. We can review your loved one’s case, determine their eligibility, and guide you through the process of applying for a reduced sentence.

Understand the Key Changes

The most notable update relates to how a defendant’s criminal history is factored into their sentence. Previously, individuals with no prior criminal records (known as “zero-point offenders”) were treated the same as those with criminal histories when calculating their sentencing range.

However, under the new federal guidelines, zero-point offenders whose offenses did not involve aggravating factors like violence or firearms will have their offense levels reduced by two levels. This change could potentially reduce sentences by months or even years for some offenders.

When Will the Changes Take Effect?

The new amendments went into effect on November 1, 2023, for those awaiting sentencing. For individuals already incarcerated, the changes applied retroactively starting on February 1, 2024. The three-month delay was intended to allow those released early to receive necessary reentry programs and transitional services, promoting their successful reintegration into society and enhancing public safety.

Who Can Seek a Reduced Sentence?

The amendments aim to increase fairness and reduce overly harsh sentences, particularly for non-violent, first-time offenders. Those convicted of lower-level drug offenses or white-collar crimes are among those who could benefit the most from these changes.

However, not everyone will qualify for a sentence reduction. To be eligible, defendants must meet specific criteria, including:

  • Having no prior criminal history points
  • Not having committed offenses involving terrorism, hate crimes, sex offenses, civil rights violations, or continuing criminal enterprises
  • Not having caused death, serious injury, or substantial financial hardship in connection with the offense
  • Not having possessed or used firearms or other dangerous weapons during the offense

If your loved one meets these qualifications, they may be eligible for a reduced sentence under the new guidelines.

How Will These Changes Help?

The updates to the federal sentencing guidelines don’t just impact future cases – they also provide a path for thousands of currently incarcerated individuals to potentially get their sentences reduced retroactively.

However, implementing retroactive sentence reductions is a major undertaking. The U.S. Sentencing Commission recognized that the courts and prison system would need adequate time to review petitions and prepare for the safe release and reentry of those receiving reduced sentences.

That’s why they built in a 3-month delay, setting the effective date for retroactive application as February 1, 2024. This will allow all parties involved – judges, lawyers, prison officials, and more – to get ready for the changes.

How Many People Will Be Affected?

So how many people might benefit from getting their sentences reduced retroactively? According to the Commission’s estimates from July 2023:

  • 11,495 currently incarcerated individuals could have their sentencing range lowered under the “status points” provisions, resulting in an average 11.7% reduction in their sentence lengths.
  • 7,272 currently incarcerated individuals are expected to be eligible for reduced sentencing ranges as “zero-point offenders” with no prior criminal histories. For them, the average sentence reduction could be a substantial 17.6%.

These numbers represent thousands of people, many of them likely non-violent offenders, who may get a second chance thanks to the revised guidelines promoting more proportional sentencing.

The Commission carefully analyzed this issue from all angles before voting to apply the changes retroactively. They reviewed data, heard testimony from experts and stakeholders across the legal system, and ultimately concluded that reducing excessive sentences would increase fairness while maintaining public safety.

Get Help from a Criminal Defense Attorney with Harrison & Hart Today

At Harrison & Hart LLC, our team of dedicated attorneys is well-versed in the intricacies of the federal sentencing guidelines and committed to fighting for the rights of our clients and their families. We understand the profound impact these changes can have on your loved one’s future, and we’re here to help you navigate this opportunity.

Contact us today at (505) 295-3261 for a free consultation and let us explore the possibilities of a reduced sentence for your loved one under the new federal sentencing guidelines.

How Long Do Criminal Appeals Take in New Mexico?

If you are convicted of a crime, you might feel like the future is bleak. However, this does not have to be the end. You still have options, including filing a direct appeal of your conviction.

Many mistakes and errors could lead to a reversal of the decision in your case. You have limited time to file an appeal, so you should contact a criminal appeals lawyer as soon as possible. Then, the appeal can take time to work through the New Mexico court system.

The Steps in the Criminal Appeal Process

Specific steps must be taken when filing a criminal appeal. You may forfeit your right to appeal if you miss any steps or fail to take them within a deadline.

Filing Your Notice of Appeal

A Notice of Appeal (NOA) is a simple document that puts the court on notice that you are appealing your conviction. Within the NOA, you must have the following information:

  • Names of both parties
  • Name and address of appellate counsel
  • Name of the trial court
  • Copy of the original judgment or order showing the date
  • Certificate of the district attorney

The NOA must be filed with the court clerk, and a copy must be served on the other party. In a criminal case, the other party is the district attorney or prosecutor.

Filing Your Docketing Statement

A docketing statement is a substitute for a transcript of proceedings. It is an adequate alternative to a complete transcript when the entire one is not necessary. It could take two to six weeks to obtain and file a docketing statement.

How Long Does It Take for a Case to Be Calendared

The docketing statement allows the court to calendar your appeal. It could take an average of two months to calendar a case after the docketing statement is filed with the Court of Appeals. If the docketing statement is filed earlier, your case may be calendared earlier.

How Long Does It Take for the Court to Decide a Case?

It could take a few months to two years for the Court of Appeal to decide your case. Cases take, on average, about one and a half years from the date the NOA was filed to be determined by an appellate court. However, about 5% of the cases on the calendar take much longer.

The time varies so much because there may be circumstances that extend the process. For example, if the attorneys file lengthy briefs or ask for an oral hearing, the appeal may take longer to move through the system.

Once a case is put on the calendar, it usually only takes six months to get a decision from the appellate court.

How Can a Criminal Appeals Attorney Help You

Appealing a criminal decision can be complex. If you want to succeed, you must raise all possible challenges to the lower court decision. If you do not make specific arguments, they may be forfeited for your appeal and other post-conviction relief in the future.

The best criminal appeals lawyers in Albuquerque help you make arguments like:

  • You received ineffective assistance of counsel at the trial level
  • Your Constitutional rights were violated
  • There was prosecutorial misconduct
  • There was misconduct on the part of law enforcement
  • The trial court made an error

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC Today

The criminal appeals law firm of Harrison & Hart, LLC has extensive experience working with clients convicted at the trial court level. Our criminal appeals and post-conviction work is dynamic and considers all arguments possible. We develop strategic methods of targeting your conviction and work to get you released.

Call us today at (505) 295-3261 or use our online contact form to reach out.

Can Federal Convictions Be Expunged?

You may have made a mistake in your past that resulted in a federal conviction. You might wonder if you can get that crime expunged from your criminal record.

However, unlike many state offenses, very few federal convictions get expunged. A knowledgeable federal expungement lawyer helps determine if you qualify for post conviction relief.

Crimes Carrying Possible Federal Charges

Crimes resulting in federal charges violate federal laws, occur on federal land, or cross state lines. There are many different types of crimes that may be charged as federal offenses. Many of those crimes parallel state offenses that may be similar. However, elements and penalties may be different.

Some common crimes that may result in federal charges include:

Can Federal Convictions Be Expunged?

When a conviction is expunged, it clears your criminal record as if it never existed. Once expunged, no one can see your federal arrest or conviction.

However, most federal offenses are not eligible for expungement. In most jurisdictions, only defendants with minor offenses under the Controlled Substances Act can get a record expungement. Federal criminal record expungement is extremely limited.

Some federal courts acknowledge a judge’s power to “make things right,” which may include expunging an arrest or conviction record. Depending on where you were convicted, you could seek an expungement of crimes other than minor drug offenses.

Important Exception for Certain Drug Charges

The federal government allows expungement for minor drug convictions, including simple possession of a controlled substance.

If a person was under 21 at the time of the offense, they can apply for an expungement, which will be automatically granted.

Also, if a person of any age is found guilty of a minor drug charge, they have no prior such offenses, and they comply with their probation, the federal court would dismiss the proceedings against them. This would clear their criminal record.

How to Expunge a Federal Conviction

There is no specified process to request a federal expunction. However, applying in the federal district court where you were convicted is best. You may also write a letter to the judge who presided over your case.

There is no published form to get an expungement. You should include your name, case number, a summary of the facts of your case, and reasons an expungement should be granted.

You must be persuasive and make claims about your rehabilitation and the miscarriage of justice if you must reveal your conviction to your employers and others.

Federal Clemency

Federal clemency is a commutation of a sentence granted by the President of the United States. It essentially reduces a federal prisoner’s ruling but does not restore other rights, such as the right to own guns.

Federal clemency was most common before the 1980s; however, it has become less frequent in recent years. Under President Barack Obama, 1,715 inmates were granted federal clemency. Despite presidents granting fewer clemencies, it is still an option for rehabilitated inmates.

A Federal Expungement Lawyer Can Evaluate Your Case

If you are interested in expunging your federal conviction, you should contact a lawyer familiar with the federal process to do so. While most people do not qualify for expungement, it may be possible to regain some of your civil rights that were removed when you were convicted.

Contact Harrison & Hart, LLC at (505) 295-3261 , or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

How to Win Post-Conviction Relief

The American justice system is flawed, and many innocent people are wrongfully convicted. You may have been found guilty of a crime, but that doesn’t have to be the end of your case.

You may have options for post-conviction relief that result in a modified sentence. You may even get your conviction overturned.

What Is Post-Conviction Relief?

Post-conviction relief is a sentence reduction or overturning of a conviction after the conclusion of your trial. It may also happen after you plead guilty and sign a plea agreement.

Types of Post-Conviction Relief

Many types of post-conviction relief exist in New Mexico. Both state and federal courts allow you to seek sentence and conviction modification after the end of a trial.

Motion to Correct an Illegal Sentence

If the sentence imposed by the court does not comply with the guidelines set by statutes, you can challenge that sentence with a motion to correct an illegal sentence. This may result in a modified sentence. If you have already served most of your sentence, you could get released for time served.

Motion to Correct a Sentence Imposed in an Illegal Manner

If the court orders you to serve time for a sentence imposed illegally, you may get relief through a post-conviction motion.

For example, if you are ordered to pay an excessive fine or not allowed parole without reason, you may be successful with a motion to correct a sentence imposed in an illegal manner.

Motion to Reduce a Sentence

Certain mitigating circumstances may be presented through a motion to reduce a sentence so you serve less time in jail. If the court did not indicate that it considered mitigating factors during sentencing, you may have a better chance of winning a motion to reduce a sentence.

Motion for Relief from Judgment

Clerical mistakes and other administrative errors can result in the imposition of an improper judgment or sentence. If your sentence does not seem correct, you may get help through a motion for relief from judgment.

Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus

You may file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus if you feel there are grounds for relief that have not yet been considered in your case. “Habeas corpus” comes from Latin and means “show me the body.”

When you file a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, you are asking a court to order a government agency, law enforcement agency, or lower court to prove that they have reason to hold you in prison.

Grounds for Post Conviction Relief

There are many grounds for relief, including the following:

  • You received ineffective assistance of counsel
  • The trial court made an error
  • There was prosecutorial misconduct
  • There was juror misconduct
  • There was police or investigator misconduct
  • There is new evidence that could not have been discovered previously
  • You are actually innocent

Any violation of your state or federal constitutional rights may be used to argue that you deserve post-conviction relief of your sentence or conviction.

The Procedure for Obtaining Post-Conviction Relief

The procedure to obtain post-conviction relief depends on the type of relief you seek.

Deadlines for Post-Conviction Relief

New Mexico has no specific deadline within which post-conviction motions must be filed except in death sentence cases.

If you were sentenced to death in a capital case, you must apply for post-conviction relief within 180 days of the appointment of post-conviction counsel.

Federal petitions for writs of habeas corpus must be filed within one year of the finalization of the denial for review from the highest appellate court.

Process for Filing Motions and Petitions

Motions and petitions for post-conviction relief should be filed to the trial court. In your motion or petition, you must include your name, inmate number and location, case number, a summary of the facts, and all your arguments regarding why post-conviction relief is appropriate. In most cases, this will include a motion and a memorandum in support.

The court will likely schedule a hearing to allow you to discuss your arguments. It’s best to attend court with a post-conviction lawyer who can use the evidence to your benefit.

If the trial court denies that motion or petition, then you can appeal that decision to the next level, up to the New Mexico Supreme Court.

Contact a Post Conviction Lawyer Today

Post-conviction relief is available to many people serving decades or even life in prison. You have an opportunity to reduce your sentence, get a new trial, or even get out of prison. By working with a New Mexico post conviction attorney from Harrison & Hart, you will understand your rights and get the best outcome possible.

Call Harrison & Hart, LLC today at (505) 295-3261 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

The Right Firm For Your Case

We’re ready to help you get your life back on track.

From our office in Albuquerque, Harrison & Hart, LLC serves clients throughout New Mexico. We are focused on getting you the best outcome possible in the harshest of situations.

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