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The U.S. Sentencing Commission’s 2024 Proposed Amendments to the Guidelines

Late last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission delivered its annual proposed amendments to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Accordingly, we’ve broken down the most significant changes, including a new prohibition on increasing a defendant’s sentence based on acquitted conduct, an amendment reinforcing the availability of intended loss and unlawful gain as measures for calculating a defendant’s loss amount, clarifying amendments regarding certain firearm enhancements, and a new downward departure for youthful offenders.

GUEST BLOG: Breaking Down the US Sentencing Commission’s Proposed Guidelines Amendments for 2024

Zachary Newland of Newland Legal provides a detailed breakdown of the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s proposed amendments to the Guidelines, which will be incorporated into the 2024 Guidelines Manual.

GUEST BLOG: Breaking Down the Recent Amendments as Incorporated in the 2023 Federal Sentencing Guidelines

Zachary Newland of Newland Legal provides the Federal Docket with a detailed breakdown of the most important amendments to the Guidelines, as incorporated in the 2023 Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Recent Supreme Court Opinions

Halkbank v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, April 2023)

In a matter of first impression for the Supreme Court, a 7-2 majority of the Court held that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act only applies in the civil context and that there is no statutory immunity for foreign sovereigns in the criminal context. The Court remanded to the Second Circuit, however, to determine whether a bank partially owned by the Republic of Turkey could still claim immunity under common law against claims of violating anti-Iranian sanctions.

Reed v. Goertz (U.S. Supreme Court, April 2023)

In a 6-3 decision, a majority of the Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations began running on a death row inmate’s claim of insufficient procedural due process when his prior “state litigation ended.” In this case, that was not when the trial court denied his motion for DNA testing of the murder weapon, but rather when the Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision.

Samia v. United States (U.S. Supreme Court, June 2023)

In a 6-3 opinion, the Supreme Court held that a defendant’s Confrontation Clause rights were not violated by the trial court’s admission of his co-defendant’s confession, during which his co-defendant stated that the defendant committed the murder, because the defendant’s name had been redacted from the confession. Even though the defendant was logically the only person the co-defendant’s confession could be referring to, the Supreme Court held it was not “directly accusatory,” or at least not directly enough, to warrant reversal.

Recent Circuit Court Opinions

United States v. Soler-Montalvo (1st Cir. August 2022)

The First Circuit vacated a defendant’s conviction for attempted coercion and enticement of a minor. The Court held that the trial court erred in excluding certain expert testimony from a clinical psychologist. While the trial court had allowed the witness to testify as an expert in the field of internet sexual behaviors, it erred in prohibiting the witness from opining on the defendant’s internet chats and whether chats like his met the pattern shown by child predators who communicate with minors online.

United States v. Rivera-Ruiz (1st Cir. August 2022)

The First Circuit vacated the sentence of a former police officer convicted of RICO conspiracy. The Court held that the district court erred in considering the PSR’s mere mentioning of the defendant’s prior administrative complaints, without more to substantiate them, as a basis for an upwards variance from the Guidelines.

United States v. Petties (4th Cir. August 2022)

The Fourth Circuit vacated a defendant’s convictions for committing a crime of violence while failing to register as a sex offender. The Government dismissed other charges against the defendant and allowed him to plead guilty to one charge conditionally so he could appeal whether his underlying kidnapping offense was a “crime of violence,” and after an intervening opinion held that kidnapping isn’t, the Court held that the district court erred in allowing the Government to reinstate the original charges against the defendant since the Government was still bound by its prior plea agreement.

The Federal Docket

The Federal Docket is a monthly newsletter providing lawyers and the community a summary of recent important decisions in the area of federal criminal law from the United States Supreme Court and the Circuit Courts of Appeal. The opinions are compiled, summarized and analyzed by Tom Church, an attorney in our firm’s federal criminal defense practice.


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