This extremely important and influential case highlights a fundamental aspect of Sentencing Guidelines.
New York, New York (PRWEB) May 29, 2013
Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi is continuing his United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.) awareness campaign with a focus on the seminal 2011 case McNeill v. United States 131 S. Ct. 2218, in which the Supreme Court held that, per the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), the interpretation of whether a crime is a “serious drug offense” must be made in light of the Guidelines as they existed at the time of conviction.
In 2008, the defendant and petitioner McNeil pled guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession with intent to distribute cocaine base. The North Carolina District Court argued that since McNeil already had two convictions for “violent felonies” and one conviction for a “serious drug offense,” that per ACCA Guidelines he should receive a minimum 15-year prison sentence.
McNeil conceded the convictions for “violent felonies,” but argued that his previous drug-related convictions no longer met the current definition of “serious drug offenses” in North Carolina as a result of 1994 amendments, in which the maximum prison terms for selling cocaine dropped to 38 months, and possession with intent to supply dropped to 30 months.
The District Court rejected McNeil’s argument by saying that his pre-1994 conviction qualified as a “serious drug offense” per the ACCA, regardless of how similarly-situated defendants may be sentenced after 1994. The Court of Appeals and ultimately the Supreme Court affirmed that view, and held that the definition of a “serious drug offense” should be made in light of the maximum term of imprisonment that is applicable at the time of conviction.
“This extremely important and influential case highlights a fundamental aspect of Sentencing Guidelines,” commented Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi, whose practice is located in New York City’s Times Square. “That aspect is that Sentencing Guidelines are forward-looking, and should not automatically be applied retroactively. To view them otherwise would tacitly expose defendants to sentences that are not tested and approved by juries. It would also undermine the integrity of plea agreements, upon which our system of justice relies on far, far more than most people realize. And while some defendants, such as McNeil, would willingly waive their Sixth Amendment rights because the Guidelines Sentence that pertains to them happens to be a lower one, we cannot put this choice in the hands of individual defendants – because, if we do, we also must put it in the hands of individual Prosecutors, and allow them to seek, when legislation allows, longer Guidelines sentences for defendants who have already been suitably and fairly sentenced.”
Mr. Preziosi’s full analysis of McNeill v. United States 131 S. Ct. 2218 is available on his firm’s website at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com/armed-career-criminal-act-defining-serious-drug-offense
For more information or media inquiries, email newyorkappellatelawyer(at)gmail(dot)com or phone (212) 300-3845.
Federal appeals lawyer Stephen N. Preziosi handles criminal appeals in all U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and in New York State Appellate Courts (including Appellate Divisions and the New York Court of Appeals). Whether a case is under the Penal Law in New York State Courts or under Federal Law in the U.S. District Courts, Mr. Preziosi has extensive experience with all types of appellate matters in both the New York State Courts and the Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. Mr. Preziosi has pursued appellate cases in the Appellate Divisions, the Appellate
Terms and the highest court in the State of New York, the New York Court of Appeals. He has also taken on cases in the various U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals, and successfully identified legal issues, designed and written briefs and conducted oral argument. The firm’s practice is concentrated in the area of appeals in criminal matters in both State and Federal Courts, and Mr. Preziosi recently launched a United States Sentencing Guidelines (USSG) awareness campaign to help the general public learn more about this critically important and influential aspect of criminal law.
Learn more at http://www.newyorkappellatelawyer.com.