Updates in Law

FAIR SENTENCING ACT OF 2010 (federal)

Significant Provisions of the FSA: On August 3 the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 took effect, reducing sentences for crack cocaine offenses. Significant provisions include:

o Twenty-eight grams of crack cocaine will now trigger a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence, and 280 grams of crack will trigger a mandatory minimum ten-year sentence.
o The five-year mandatory minimum for simple possession of crack cocaine has been eliminated.
o Based on the new mandatory minimums, the 100 to 1 sentencing ratio has been reduced to about 18 to 1
o Penalties for what are deemed serious cases have increased.
o The FSA is silent on the issue of retroactivity; however, the FSA's application to pending cases with offenses committed before August 3, 2010 is an open question. Favorable decisions on retroactivity include U.S. v. Douglas, __ F. Supp. 2d __, 2010 WL 4260221 (D. Maine Oct. 27, 2010) (appeal pending).

On April 6, 2011, the Sentencing Commission promulgated a permanent amendment implementing the directives of the FSA. The Commission will send the amendment to Congress on May 1, 2011 and, absent Congressional action, the amendment as written will take effect on November 1, 2011. The permanent amendment re-promulgates the temporary emergency amendment without change, except for the new Application Note 28 (relating to the new enhancement for maintaining a premises).

OBLIGATION TO ADVISE ON IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES OF CONVICTION

Padilla v. Kentucky,130 S.Ct. 1473 (2010)

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