First Step Act won’t apply to all prior cocaine offenses

| Jun 22, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

While some people who have been convicted for possessing small amounts of marijuana in Alabama and around the country have had their records expunged, those who have convictions for small amounts of other drugs have hoped that the same will eventually apply to them. However, it doesn’t seem likely that those convicted of possessing crack cocaine will have their sentences reduced anytime soon.

U.S. Supreme Court rules against cocaine sentence reduction

A decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court clarified the 2018 First Step Act that allowed some prison inmates to seek reduced sentences for low-level criminal offenses. During the crack cocaine crisis of the late 20th century, offenders possessing tiny amounts received the same sentence as those possessing amounts that were 100 times as much. In other words, someone possessing few grams of cocaine could receive the same amount as someone possessing an entire pound.

Confusing ruling

The Supreme Court ruling sparks some confusion as it indicated that the First Step Act only applies two larger categories for possession of larger amounts, not to low-level offenses. Although the Supreme Court decision was unanimous, at least one justice suggested that it’s up to Congress to fix the problem through legislation that will allow low-level cocaine offenders to have their sentences reduced.

Where does my offense fall?

If you have been convicted of cocaine possession and want to have your sentence reduced, reviewing where it falls under the current ruling can determine whether you can serve less time in prison. The amount of cocaine in your possession at the time of your arrest will determine your eligibility.

Instead of wondering whether you qualify, think about taking positive action. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is a good initial step.