Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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President Obama commuting drug sentences

President Obama continues to commute the sentences of federal inmates convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. His latest action substantially reduced prison time for 111 individuals, including eight from Illinois.

The original convictions of the Illinois individuals involved numerous types of criminal charges, such as money laundering, interstate travel for racketeering activities, conspiracy to distribute cocaine base, intent to distribute cocaine and heroin and possession with intent to distribute controlled substances.

In a video provided by the Federal Defender Program in Chicago, one of the men who received a commuted sentence described his hardships as a child. He explained that he ended up on the streets as a teenager, and this environment led to his criminal actions.

The president has given much more attention to federal prisoners convicted of drug crimes than his predecessors. Since becoming president in 2008, he has reduced sentences for 673 people. This amount exceeds the number of prisoners granted relief by the 10 previous presidents combined.

Although these people were federal prisoners, the state of Illinois takes drug crimes seriously as well. People who have been issued state drug charges can face significant penalties if the prosecution is able to obtain a conviction, including incarceration and fines. Their future employment prospects could be adversely affected as well. As a result, those who find themselves in this position may want to have the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in attempting to combat the allegations. One potential strategy could be to challenge the search that led to the seizure of the drugs as being made without probable cause.

Source: Chicago Patch, "President Obama Reduces Sentences of 8 Illinois Convicts", Joe Vince, Aug. 31, 2016

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