AG’s Memorandum on Mandatory Minimums and Recidivist Enhancements

By Christopher Zoukis

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Department of Justice either declining to charge or waiving more severe charges for those involved in certain nonviolent, low-level drug cases.  The rumors inside federal prison have run the gambit from the new policy being retroactive to it only affecting those with gun convictions, both of which are categorically incorrect.  In matters of law and policy, it is always best to learn the truth from official U.S. Government documents or directly from judicial opinions, not hearsay, summaries, or third party opinions.

As a service to the Prison Law Blog readers, enclosed below is the memorandum from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder concerning the new policy revisions which his office has put into play.  We implore you to review this memorandum as it clarifies the DOJ’s position on this matter and shows how federal prosecutors will be applying the new guidelines to applicable offenders.  By reading the memorandum, you can understand exactly who it applies to and how federal prosecutors can use it in certain cases.

The memorandum reads as follows:

MEMORANDUM TO THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS AND ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE CRIMINAL DIVISION

FROM: THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

SUBJECT: Department Policy on Charging Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Recidivist Enhancements in Certain Drug Cases

In Alleyne v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 2151 (2013), the Supreme Court held that any fact that increases the statutory mandatory minimum sentence is an element of the crime that must be submitted to the jury and found beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that for a defendant to be subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, prosecutors must ensure that the charging document includes those elements of the crime that trigger the statutory minimum penalty.

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