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Florida Court Explains Requirements for Seeking Compassionate Release

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted seemingly every aspect of society, including those who are currently incarcerated. In some cases, the pandemic serves as grounds for granting incarcerated individuals compassionate release. The courts do not readily grant compassionate release requests, however, and there are certain measures a party must take before a request is even considered. In a recent Florida opinion in a case in which the defendant was serving a sentence for a child pornography conviction, the court explained the grounds for granting compassionate release. If you need assistance with a criminal matter, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

The Procedural History

It is reported that the defendant was charged with and pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. He was sentenced to 180 months in prison in 2010. In May of 2020, he sought compassionate release, but his request was denied due to his failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. He then filed a second request, based on the fact that he suffered a COVID-19 infection and had asthma and probable lung damage. The court denied his motion, finding that once again, he failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Requests for Compassionate Release

The court explained that a court’s authority to modify a prison sentence is significantly limited by statute. Specifically, 18 U.S.C. 3582(c) enumerates the reasons a district court can modify or reduce a prison term once it has been imposed. The court explained that the only portion of the statute that applied in the subject case was the provision that allows a court to reduce a sentence when there is a compelling and extraordinary reason to do so.

The provision explained, however, that a defendant must fully exhaust all administrative rights to appeal the failure of the Bureau of Prisons to pursue a motion on the defendant’s behalf, or after thirty days have elapsed since such a request was made by the warden of the defendant’s facility, whichever is earlier. The court explained that the law allows criminal defendants the chance to appeal the Bureau of Prison’s denial of compassionate release, but it does not change the requirement that a prisoner must first go through all possible administrative remedies prior to seeking relief from the courts.

The court went on to explain that if a warden denies a request for compassionate relief within thirty days, the prisoner cannot seek action from the courts until he or she has fully exhausted the administrative remedies. As the defendant failed to do so in this matter, his request was denied.

Meet with a Seasoned Criminal Defense Attorney in Florida

Criminal defendants have many rights under both state and federal laws, even after they are convicted. If you are accused of possessing child pornography or any other offense, it is critical to speak to a seasoned criminal defense lawyer about your options. Florida criminal defense attorney Genine Ann Mejia has extensive experience helping people accused of crimes seek just outcomes, and she will work tirelessly on your behalf.  You can reach Ms. Mejia through the online form or at (386) 463-0849 to set up a meeting.

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