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What is the “First Step Act?”

On Behalf of | Oct 23, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

The First Step Act of 2018 could help people convicted of drug crimes secure an early release. The law promotes criminal justice reform, and some provisions might help prisoner address their long federal sentences. Besides offering a chance at compassionate reductions, the act also addresses sentencing rules related to crack distribution. Be mindful that the act deals with federal cases and not North Carolina state crimes, though.

Addressing Disproportionate Sentences

The point about “crack distribution” deals with a statute that charged a gram of crack as if it was the same as 100 grams of powdered cocaine. Many saw this statute as unfair and one prone to deliver disproportionate sentences. For years, the statute remained in place until the 2018 Act was signed into law.

Unfortunately, the act doesn’t provide straightforward conclusions for prisoners who feel their incarceration seems unjust. It puts the onus on many to serve as their lawyers. Representing oneself in legal proceedings might prove challenging. Someone with no criminal law background could have a tough time attempting to figure out the statutes and provisions. While some aspects may prove frustrating, the law could bring hope to those prisoners suffering through unusually long sentences.

Changing an Original Prison Sentence

In past times, a judge had very few options when it came to reexamining someone’s sentence. The First Step Act now provides judges with the ability to review past sentences and possibly make adjustments. If a sentence appears outrageously harsh, a judge might make modifications.

The First Step Act does offer many potential options for incarcerated persons. Prisoners may petition the court themselves, or the U.S. Bureau of Prisons could ask for resentencing. The latter option may surprise many, but the possibility exists.

Even with the new reform laws, criminal law statutes remain complex. Discussing a case with an experienced attorney could help a prisoner work on a sentence-reduction strategy.