Florida Court Discusses Grounds for Modifying a Sentence for a Federal Crime

The law is constantly changing, and modifications to the definitions of crimes and sentencing requirements can impact the manner in which criminal cases are resolved. Even if an intervening change of law occurs, though, it may not be considered grounds for modifying a sentence once it has been imposed. This was demonstrated recently in an opinion issued by a Florida court in which it denied a defendant’s request for compassionate release that was triggered by a change in the definition of a crime of violence. If you are accused of a violent crime, it is in your best interest to meet with a St. Petersburg violent crime defense attorney to discuss your rights.

The Defendant’s Sentence and Appeal

It is alleged that in 2015 the defendant entered a guilty plea to Hobbs Act robbery via a written plea agreement that included a waiver of the right to appeal his sentence. During his sentencing hearing, he was deemed a career offender on the grounds that he had two prior violent crime convictions and Hobbs Act robbery qualified as a crime of violence. He did not object to the designation and was sentenced to 151 months in prison.

Reportedly, although the defendant did not appeal his sentence, his two codefendants did on the grounds that Hobbs Act robbery was not a crime of violence. Their challenges were successful. In 2020, the defendant filed a motion seeking a sentence reduction based on compelling and extraordinary reasons, namely that Hobbs Act robberies were no longer deemed crimes of violence. The court denied the motion, and the defendant appealed.

Grounds for Modifying a Sentence

Typically, a court cannot modify a prison sentence once it has been imposed. There is a limited exception, however, for cases involving compelling and extraordinary reasons that warrant such a reduction if the reduction is consistent with the policy statements set forth by the sentencing commission and the factors set forth in 18 U.S.C.  3582 (c) favor it. If any of these requirements are not met, though, the court cannot modify a sentence.

In the subject case, the appellate court found that the defendant failed to demonstrate a compelling and extraordinary reason for granting the modification existed and, therefore, could not grant his request for relief. Specifically, the appellate court explained that changes in the law did not fall under the statutory definition of extraordinary and compelling reasons, and the court was bound by the definition. As such, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Florida Criminal Defense Attorney

Once a sentence is imposed for a violent crime conviction, it can be challenging to demonstrate that it should be modified. If you are accused of committing a violent crime, it is prudent to contact an attorney to determine your potential defenses. The trusted St. Petersburg criminal defense attorneys of Hanlon Law are adept at helping criminal defendants protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 727-897-5413 or via the form online to set up a meeting.


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