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Unfairness of Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Methamphetamine Cases

Methamphetamine remains a popular drug for law enforcement to prosecute. According to Paul Petruzzi, a well-respected Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer, "Some people call (actual) methamphetamine, also known as ice, "crackers crack" because the people who generally use it are rural poor whites and because, like crack, it is a rock-like version of the powder form of the drug.” There are several different types of methamphetamine, and it is important to know the various types of methamphetamine because the type of meth can affect the potential punishment.

In federal court, methamphetamine possession is punished much more severely than any other drug. This is simply unfair, for example, when compared to cocaine, the ratio is more than 100 to 1. In other words, 150 kilos of cocaine is equal to 1 kilo of actual methamphetamine for the purposes of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

Petruzzi has litigated this troubling circumstance with success. In a recent case, his client was facing a recommended guideline sentence of between 188 and 235 months (15 to 20 years) in prison. After hearing the defense arguments however, the judge sentenced his client to just 88 months, which was less than half of the original punishment. “A great result indeed. Regardless, there is still much more work that needs to be done to correct the unfair treatment of meth offenders in general.”

This is a topic that has been discussed by judges across the country - especially now that the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are no longer mandatory. Indeed, the time has certainly come to develop this area of criminal defense jurisprudence because the sentencing guidelines are not base on any empirical evidence that justifies such disparate punishments.

As Petruzzi argued in a case he recently dealt with concerning this issue, the applicable guideline range for methamphetamine offenses has continued to escalate since its formation, and according to Petruzzi, at present, no other drug is punished more severely in federal court based on purity. As Petruzzi remarked, “Really, what causes more harm, 149 kilograms of cocaine (over 300 pounds) or less than 1000 grams of meth?"

United States v. Willie Hayes

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