The 2018 Amendment to the Sentencing Guidelines go into effect on November 1, 2018. The National Sentencing Resource Counsel Project has prepared a helpful summary of the changes and also included relevant practice tips (noted as “Defender comments”). The SRC memo is available here: SRC Summary of 2018 Amendments to the Sentencing Guidelines.
Notable changes include amendments to:
(1) the drug guidelines for synthetic drugs, namely cathinones, cannabinoids, and fentanyl analogues;
(2) the illegal reentry guideline;
(3) the acceptance of responsibility guideline (now adding language to clarify that unsuccessful challenges to relevant conduct should not bar application of the acceptance reduction);
(4) the Commentary to §5C1.1 (now directing that courts “should consider imposing a sentence other than” imprisonment for nonviolent first offenders falling in Zones A and B);
(5) the Commentary to §4A1.3 (now providing a non-exhaustive list of factors a court may consider in determining whether and to what extent to depart upward based on tribal court convictions);
(6) the fraud guideline (now adding the 20th specific offense characteristic to §2B1.1 for defendants convicted of certain forms of social security fraud).
Please make sure to look at the actual language of the Amendments on the Commission’s website. And, recall that, for amendments that hurt defendants, ex post facto limitations apply, and the Guidelines Manual in effect on the date of the offense of conviction should apply if beneficial.