In 2015, the United States Supreme Court declared the “residual clause” of the Armed Career Criminal Act (“ACCA”) unconstitutionally vague. Subsequently, the Supreme Court declared that ruling retroactive. As a result, many federal defendants who had their sentences increased under the Armed Career Criminal Act may be eligible for relief. The reduction in sentence by winning one of these motions could be significant because the ACCA increases a conviction that carries a 10 year maximum sentence to being a 15 year mandatory minimum sentence.
Because the Supreme Court issued their opinion on June 26, 2015, petitioners have one year to file for relief from the date of that opinion, not the ruling of retroactivity. Thus, any petition for relief must be filed on or before June 25, 2016 (to be on the safe side) to ensure that the petition is timely. An attorney familiar with 2255 petitions and the rulings in Johnson and Welch can advise you as to the particular procedure you must follow. It is imperative to be timely or you may lose your opportunity to save years off a federal sentence.
It should also be noted that if a person’s sentence was enhanced as a result of the Career Offender Guideline or if they were convicted for a violation of 18 USC 924(c) or under 16(b) of the immigration code that they may also be entitled to relief and should consult an attorney immediately.