At Tilem & Campbell, we often consult with and are retained by those facing or serving 5, 10 or 20 year federal statutory mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine base (crack) offenses. Many individuals mistakenly believe that the United States Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Kimbrough v United States, 128 S. Ct. 558 struck down the statutory mandatory minimums for crack offenses. The decision did no such thing and has been widely misinterpreted as having struck down the federal statutory mandatory minimums for crack offenses as well as the 100:1 powder cocaine to crack cocaine ratio. In fact the Kimbrough case concerned a Booker issue – not a statutory mandatory minimum challenge. The Kimbrough decision held that the 100:1 ratio found in the United States Sentencing Guidelines is merely advisory; as are all of the Guidelines after Booker.
The Kimbrough decision held that a sentencing court may consider the 100:1 crack/powder cocaine disparity found in the Guidelines when determining a sentence. In Kimbrough, the defendant’s Guideline range was well above the statutory mandatory minimum. What the District Court did was consider the 100:1 ratio and its effect on the sentencing range. Based upon that consideration, the District Court, decided that the ratio resulted in an overly excessive sentencing range and sentenced the defendant to a sentence below the advisory sentence as calculated under the Guidelines – but above the 10 year statutory mandatory minimum.
However, the reasoning and discussion in Kimbrough established that the United States Supreme Court has now acknowledged that the fears that one time supported the 100:1 crack/powder sentencing disparity have proved unfounded and that crack cocaine and powder cocaine are the same drug and bring about the same physiological effects of the user. The decision also cited numerous Commission reports critical of the ratio and urging its abolishment.
For more information about the federal mandatory minimum sentences for cocaine offenses as well as Tilem & Campbell’s appellate challenges to such federal sentences, call 1-888-ANY-CRIME or visit www.888AnyCrime.com