New Amendments to the United States Sentencing Guidelines take effect November 1, 2023

Changes to the Sentencing Guidelines- No Criminal History

On April 5, 2023, the United States Sentencing Commission voted to adopt proposed amendments to the current guidelines for Congress’ approval.  The Commission’s proposed amendments go into effect on November 1, 2023.  In establishing the new law, the Commission referred to its studies of recidivism among federal offenders, as well as their extensive data analysis of offenders with no criminal history points, and public comment.  Recidivism data collected by the Commission shows that offenders with zero criminal history points have considerably lower recidivism rates than other offenders, including offenders with one criminal history point.  Ergo, criminal history category I defendants will essentially be split from their current “all in” category.  Among other findings, the report concluded that “zero-point offenders” were less likely to be rearrested than “one-point” offenders (26.8 percent versus 42.3).  The most prevalent disparity of any comparison of offenders within the same Criminal History Category. 

“In promulgating this change, the Commission also considered the rates of departures and variances in cases involving offenders with no criminal history points.  The Commission has long viewed the rates and extents of departures and variances form the applicable guideline ranges as a feedback mechanism form the court that a particular area of the guidelines may warrant further review and possible amendment.  In fiscal year 2021, 39.2 percent of offenders with zero criminal history points received a sentence within the Guidelines range; by comparison, 47.4 percent of offenders with one criminal history point were sentenced within the guideline range.  The Commission determined that the departure and variance rates for zero-point offenders, coupled with its recidivism data, warranted action.”  Id.

                        The Commission also used existing legislation, including the congressionally established criteria for the statutory safety valve at 18 U.S.C. §3553(f).

This amendment will make changes to offenders who have no criminal history points and provides a decrease of two levels from total offense level.  Although the law does not officially take place until November 1, 2023; attorneys can (and should) be arguing for any federal client who is being sentenced.  Contact Laguzzi Law, P.C. to see if you qualify for this decrease, or if you have any questions about other changes to the Sentencing Guidelines due to take effect this year.