What is the first step act?

On December 21st, 2018, President Trump signed into law P.L. 115-391, also known as the First Step Act. This Act contains many important changes to the way federal sentencing guidelines are calculated and enforced, particularly with respect to mandatory minimum penalties and application of the safety valve provisions.

In the First Step Act, certain enhanced mandatory minimum penalties for some drug offenses are reduced. In addition, the number of situations where the safety valve provisions are available has been broadened. These provisions allow a sentencing court to choose not to apply the mandatory minimums that might otherwise apply.

The First Step Act reduces the number of situations where a defendant charged in a multi-count indictment can have the penalties for each count “stacked”. When the penalties imposed for multi-count indictments are stacked, a defendant must serve the time assessed on each count consecutively, or one after the other, as opposed to concurrently, where all counts are served at the same time. Stacking generally results in a much longer period of incarceration.

One of the most important aspects of the First Step Act is that it applies retroactively the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which increased the quantity of crack cocaine that was needed before mandatory minimum penalties would be in play. Any defendant that was sentenced before the effective date of the Fair Sentencing Act (August 3, 2010) who did not receive the benefit of the statutory penalty changes included in that Act is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act.

If you or someone you know believes they may be eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act, you are urged to contact the Law office of Daniel and Hudson for a free case review. Call us first at 210.222.2297.