In a recent case coming out of a court that oversees the Commonwealth of Virginia, the defendant appealed his 219-month sentence based on drug convictions. On appeal, the defendant argued that a law passed in 2010 reduced the maximum sentence he could face for a conviction related to cocaine possession. The court looked at the law in question and ultimately disagreed with the defendant, denying his appeal.
Facts of the Case
According to the opinion, the defendant was convicted approximately ten years ago of participating in a 2009 drug conspiracy. In 2012, a trial court concluded that the defendant had dealt with powder and crack cocaine in the conspiracy, and he was sentenced to 219 months in prison as a result.
Two years prior to the conviction, in 2010, Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced the statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses nationwide. After its enactment, the government had to decide whether or not the Act applied to defendants who had been convicted before 2010 – that is, did defendants convicted of crack cocaine offenses qualify for lower sentences even if those convictions occurred prior to Congress’s passing of the Act? Congress decided in 2018 that yes, the Act would apply to pre-Act offenders who had not yet been sentenced when the Act became effective.