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President Obama commutes sentences of 46 people

California readers may be interested to learn that President Barack Obama commuted the sentences of 46 mostly nonviolent drug offenders on July 13. According to the White House, most of the individuals would have already completed their sentences had current sentencing laws been in effect at the time they were charged.

“I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around,” Obama wrote to each of those who received a commutation. “Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity.” The president has now commuted the sentences of almost 90 people, mostly nonviolent drug offenders. In a White House blog post regarding the commutations, Neil Eggleston, counsel to the president, noted that federal sentencing practices can often lead to excessive sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, who sometimes spend decades or life in prison.

Of the 46 individuals who had their sentences commuted, most were facing at least 20 years in prison. Fourteen people had been sentenced to life in prison. Last year, Obama asked the Justice Department to identify and recommend for clemency low-level, nonviolent offenders who would receive lighter sentences for the same crimes today.

Any California resident arrested on drug charges may benefit by immediately retaining a criminal defense attorney. After reviewing the details of the case, an attorney could recommend the best course of legal action given the circumstances. In some cases, the attorney will attempt to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor that would involve the defendant pleading guilty to a lesser offense in exchange for having the more serious ones dropped.

Source: NPR, “White House Announces Commutations For 46 Mostly Nonviolent Offenders,” Krishnadev Calamur, July 13, 2015

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John Patrick Ryan has been practicing law for over 20 years. Experienced in criminal law. U.S. Navy Veteran.