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U.S. Supreme Court May Split on Crack Cocaine Sentencing

In 2007 and 2008, Corey A. Hill and Edward Dorsey were arrested for selling crack cocaine. Before they were sentenced, the Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) went into effect.

Under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, individuals convicted of distributing smaller grams of crack cocaine received sentences similar to those for individuals convicted of distributing higher amounts of powder cocaine. Under the FSA, these disparities were corrected.

Hill and Dorsey appealed arguing that the 10 year mandatory sentences under the Anti-Drug Abuse Act could not be given to individuals sentenced after the FSA took effect. The 7th U.S, Circuit Court of Appeals denied their appeal holding that convictions handed down before the FSA went enacted, would be sentenced under pre-FSA guidelines, even if handed down after the FSA went into affect.

The U.S. Supreme Court is now considering whether the ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is correct. Hill and Dorsey have argued they should receive reduced prison time per the FSA guidelines because Congress did not intend for judges to impose sentences under the old mandatory when it was clear the law was about to change. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals continues to hold that “people who committed the same offense on the same date and may have done so with each other, [are] expected to get comparable punishment if they were comparably situated as to criminal history, and the solution that’s being urged undermines that.”

Hill and Dorsey’s argument has been bolstered by the Justice Department, which no longer supports the 7th Circuits opinion. A ruling by the high court is expected by the end of June.

The Las Vegas law office of Lagomarsino Law did not represent anyone involved in the above-referenced case. The commentary is for educational and commentary purposes only. If you would like to be represented by a Nevada attorney, contact our office for a free confidential case review and receive a response within hours. Call Toll Free 866-414-0400.