Will the Dimaya decision help federal inmates serve less time?

The answer is “maybe.” Earlier this month, the U.S District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, along with other district courts in the United States, issued an order calling for a comprehensive review of defendants who may be eligible for resentencing under the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sessions v. Dimaya, which struck down 18 U.S.C. § 16(b), a federal law defining a “crime of violence” that had been used to sentence defendants to long prison terms if their offenses fell under the definition in § 16(b).

The Court noted that the Supreme Court’s holding may be declared “retroactive” in the near future, meaning that the defendants who were sentenced under the now-unconstitutional law can file motions to be resentenced.

Since a defendant can only file a motion to be resentenced within the first year after a law is deemed retroactive, however, the Court has ordered the attorneys for the Federal Defender Program to review the sentences of 69 defendants who the U.S. Sentencing Commission has identified as possibly eligible for resentencing under Dimaya.

The Court has also appointed the Federal Defenders to review the files of any defendants who file motions to be resentenced based on Dimaya, even if they are not on the Government’s list. In the event a Federal Defender has a conflict of interest, the Court will appoint a private attorney in the district.

While it is unclear at this point how the law will unfold, it is important for defendants to know their rights. Even defendants who are not on the Government’s list may be entitled to a new, lower sentence. If you believe you were sentenced under 18 U.S.C. 16(b), which enhances sentences for defendants who have committed a “crime of violence,” contact our firm to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.


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