Feb 08, 2016 The importance of postponing sentencing until after a more favorable sentencing scheme takes effect
Sentencing is a sad reality for a large percentage of criminal defendants.
Sometimes, sentencing laws and procedures change to the favor of criminal defendants. Even when it is not clear whether those sentencing changes will or will not be retroactive for crimes committed before the sentencing change, little is risked by delaying a sentencing date until the more favorable sentencing scheme takes effect.
Sylvan Abney’s lawyer did not seek such a sentencing date delay for the Fair Sentencing Act first to take place. As a result, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week ruled 2-1 to reverse the trial court and order a resentencing under the Fair Sentencing Act, on the basis that Abney’s lawyer performed ineffectively under the Sixth Amendment by not seeking such a sentencing delay. U.S. v. Abney, ___ F.3d ___ (D.C. Cir., Feb. 5, 2016).
Abney says that Abney’s reconsideration motion on the matter in trial court was unopposed by the prosecution, making it less likely that the prosecution will seek for the full Circuit Court or the Supreme Court to disturb Abney.