On May 10, 2017 United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a Memorandum to all federal prosecutors titled Department Charging and Sentencing Policy. The new policy requires federal prosecutors to charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offenses, i.e., those that carry the longest guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.
The new policy rescinds any previous inconsistent policies of the United States Department of Justice, including the Department Policy on Charging Mandatory Minimum Sentences and Recidivist Enhancements in Certain Drug Cases (August 12, 2013) and Guidance Regarding section 851 Enhancements in Plea Negotiations (September 24, 2014).
Simply put, the new policy generally requires prosecutors to seek whatever charges would lead to the most years in prison for any and all federal offenses. But, it is expected to have the most impact upon those arrested for possessing or selling drugs. The policy, however, does allow prosecutors to seek permission on specific cases to not strictly follow it if authorized by supervisors. But, non-adherence to the new policy is expected to be infrequent. Continue reading