What’s New With Raquin Mercer – July 2020
COVID-19 Updates: Compassionate Release for Federal Inmates and DC Code Offenders
Through the First Step Act, Congress sought to revive compassionate release of inmates by allowing them to directly petition courts for relief from their sentence, rather than leaving that power solely in the hands of the BOP. Under the First Step Act, a court may conduct a review of the sentence upon motion of the defendant, if they have exhausted all administrative remedies to appeal the BOP’s failure to bring a motion, or if 30 days has lapsed from denial of such a request by the warden of the defendant’s facility, whichever is earlier. For DC Code Offenders, there is a newly passed law that is modeled on the First Step Act compassionate release provisions. However, for DC Code Offenders, there is no such exhaustion requirement under the recently enacted DC Compassionate Release statute. Contact RaquinMercer about compassionate release for federal inmates and DC Code Offenders.
COVID-19 Updates – Business Owners With Criminal History May Now Be Eligible For PPP Loans
At first, the SBA excluded many people with a conviction from the Payroll Protection Program. However, the SBA recently changed the rules in response to litigation in which the Court found the rule “arbitrary and capricious.” Under the new rule, small business owners with pending misdemeanor charges and those on probation or parole for older crimes may now apply. Business owners with pending felony charges or those currently on probation or parole for a felony offense committed in the last year, and five years for those with financial crimes, are still barred from eligibility. Now that Congress has extended the PPP program, thousands of small business and nonprofits that had previously been excluded are now eligible. It is especially helpful because some or all of the loans are forgivable. See the Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights website for more information on how you may qualify.
Governor Hogan Orders Expedited Release and Parole Consideration of Certain Inmates in Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in State Prisons and Local Jails.
On April 18, 2020, Governor Hogan issued an Order “Implementing Alternative Correctional Detention and Supervision” related to the COVID-19 crisis in the Department of Corrections. The Governor’s Order provides certain inmates with (1) expedited release; (2) expedited home detention; and (3) accelerated parole consideration. The Order establishes the following criteria for each category.
Expedited release: The Governor’s order is good news for all inmates (e.g., does not exclude inmates convicted of crimes of violence, but DOES exclude inmates whose term of confinement includes a sentence for a sexual offense) with a mandatory release date on or before August 16, 2020. For these inmates, the Commissioner of Correction is authorized to suspend the cap on diminution credits and award additional diminution credits that are “necessary and appropriate for expedited release on mandatory supervision.”
Expedited Home Detention: It is good news for inmates “[w]ho are eligible for home detention under CS § 3-404” (and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a sexual offense). As written, the Order could cover a large segment of the inmate population convicted of nonviolent crimes, regardless of their projected mandatory release date. CS § 3-404 is written in the negative, i.e., an inmate is eligible for home detention unless convicted of physical or sexual child abuse or escape, serving a life sentence, or convicted of a crime of violence under CR § 14-101 UNLESS the inmate is within 90 days of release on mandatory supervision, OR if the inmate’s term of confinement includes stacked sentences for violent and nonviolent crimes, more than 5 years has elapsed since expiration of the sentence for the crime(s) of violence.
Accelerated Parole consideration: Limited to inmates who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, are not convicted of a crime of violence under CR § 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a sexual offense.
Inmates eligible for relief under the Governor’s Order may want to submit a release and reentry plan that addresses the factors identified by the Governor, including the inmate’s age, medical conditions, pregnancy, special needs, and how the inmate will be able to self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days following release. The objective is to demonstrate that early release will reduce the client’s risk of exposure to COVID and will not compromise the public health.
For an inmate over 60 years old to be considered for “accelerated parole,” must he already be eligible for parole? Yes – to benefit from “accelerated parole” consideration under the Order, the inmate must already meet the parole eligibility criteria under Correctional Services Art., sec. 7-301 that generally require a nonviolent offender to serve one quarter the term of confinement to be eligible for release on parole. The Order defines “accelerated parole” to cover “otherwise eligible” inmates who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, have not been convicted of a crime of violence under CR 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a “sexual offense.” Section 10(c) of the Order further states “except as expressly provided herein, all other laws regarding an inmate’s … parole remain in effect.” The Order does not expressly conflict with CS sec. 7-301 (eligibility). Note that nonviolent offenders may be released at “any time” to undergo mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, or to participate in a residential program for the best interest of an expected or newborn baby. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3). There are exceptions for repeat drug offenders, volume dealers, and similar crimes. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3)(ii).
Does the Governor’s Order apply to inmates in local correctional facilities? Only the accelerated parole program applies to inmates in local correctional facilities who have served at least six months of their term of confinement and are otherwise eligible for parole. The Order further limits “otherwise eligible” inmates to those who are at least 60 years old, have a good institutional record, an approved home plan, have not been convicted of a crime of violence under CR 14-101, and whose term of confinement does not include a sentence for a “sexual offense.” To be “otherwise eligible” for parole, Correctional Services Art., sec. 7-301 generally requires a nonviolent offender to serve one quarter the term of confinement. Note that a nonviolent offender may be released at “any time” to undergo mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, or to participate in a residential program for the best interest of an expected or newborn baby. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3). There are exceptions for repeat drug offenders, volume dealers, and similar crimes. CS sec. 7-301(a)(3)(ii). Inmates serving a term of confinement that includes a sentence for a crime of violence under the Crim. Law Art., sec. 14-101, must generally serve at least one-half their term of confinement to be eligible for early release on parole and are not eligible for “accelerated parole” under the Governor’s Order.
Contact RaquinMercer LLC for more information.
Regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In this unprecedented time, we know the stress and uncertainty of a criminal case is suddenly much greater.
Although we have to adapt and accept our public health recommendations for phone contacts over face-to-face interactions, one thing remains clear and certain for us: RaquinMercer is open, we are working on our clients’ cases, and we are always on and by the side of our clients.If you have a new matter, our office remains open for phone consultations. For our clients, we are filing all required written motions or briefs on your cases during this time. Also, courts remain open for emergency matters like bail reviews and initial appearances.
We are concerned about the health and safety of incarcerated persons and we are closely monitoring the situation in the jails and prisons. Follow us on Twitter @raquinmercerlaw for news stories about how jails, prisons, and the criminal justice system are responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Your choice of an attorney can make the difference between winning or losing your freedom, or winning or losing your case, whether it is at trial, an appeal or a post-conviction. When your future hangs in the balance, your legal team must understand DNA/forensic science and the law. The vision of RaquinMercer is to be the premier law firm for criminal trials, appeals, and post-conviction proceedings. Choose your attorney wisely. Choose RaquinMercer.
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RaquinMercer—Best Defense Attorneys in Maryland, DC & More
Providing Excellent Law Services to Rockville, Potomac, Silver Spring & Beyond
Isabelle Raquin and Steve Mercer share a life-long commitment to securing freedom for wrongfully charged and convicted people. Isabelle and Steve share the same passion for criminal defense work. They enjoy the fight inherent to criminal cases and love to challenge every aspect of their clients’ cases, every step of the way. They thrive on the complexity of cases involving forensic science. No case, no science is too difficult for them to comprehend or too hard to contest. Their ethic is to litigate to win. Their ambition is to be a leader in the field of criminal defense work and forensic science. Isabelle and Steve compete together to achieve the best outcome for their clients. They use a collective and collaborative approach, work on cases together, and always consult each other. Clients in our firm are our clients.