Federal 4C1.1 “Zero Point” Offenders Reduction: 2 Point Reduction for Federal Inmates

Jason Goldman
February 23, 2024
Recent Case Law
Policy Changes
Sentencing and Appellate Practice

Table of Contents


Recently, federal legislators passed and enacted a new policy bill to be applied to the United States Sentencing Guidelines – a two-point adjustment for “zero point offenders.” This legislation, codified as Section 4C1.1 is geared towards offenders who have minimal or no prior criminal history. If eligible, these individuals will be granted an additional two-level deduction during their sentencing, which may dramatically affect their guidelines and ultimate release date from custody.

This bill was passed in May of 2023 and went into effect in November of 2023. There is already caselaw which speaks to the laws retroactivity, meaning that even if you have already been sentenced, you may be eligible for the reduction and a re-sentencing. A federal criminal defense attorney can walk you through the retroactive application of the law and can file this motion on your behalf.

Who is Eligible

The newly created § 4C1.1 applies to individuals who meet all of the following criteria:

  1. the defendant has not received any criminal history points;
  2. the defendant has not received an adjustment for terrorism (covered by § 3A1.4);
  3. the defendant did not use violence or credible threats of violence in connection with the offense;
  4. the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury;
  5. the offense of conviction is not a sex offense;
  6. the defendant did not personally cause substantial financial hardship (to be determined independently of the application of § 2B1.1(b)(c));
  7. the defendant did not possess, receive, purchase, transport, transfer, sell, or otherwise dispose of a firearm or other dangerous weapon (or induce another participant to do so) in connection with the offense;
  8. the offense of conviction is not an offense involving individual rights (covered by § 2H1.1);
  9. the defendant did not receive an adjustment under § 3A1.1 (hate crime motivation or vulnerable victim) or § 3A1.5 (serious human rights offense); and,
  10. the defendant did not receive an adjustment under § 3B1.1 (aggravating role) and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise.

As seen with the criteria, the legislators included various requirements before an individual is eligible for this reduction. For individuals that are still facing a pending prosecution and have not yet pled guilty or been sentenced, it is crucial that your criminal defense focus on this criteria during the negotiation phase. Indeed, many individuals will undoubtedly find themselves eligible for the deduction, only to realize that their attorney may not have negotiated on one of the enhancements within the criteria (i.e., condition ‘6’ requires that the defendant does not have a 2B1 enhancement). The last thing you want is to be precluded from a two-level deduction because your attorney did not isolate specific criteria and negotiate with the government to keep you eligible.

Impact on Sentencing

If you are eligible for this new deduction, an additional “two-levels” will be taken off of your base level offense. This, in turn, can lead to months or even years being taken off of your sentence. Importantly, and as noted above, this law is retroactive. Hence, individuals who have already been sentenced and are now serving a term of incarceration can be re-sentenced by the Court once the amended guideline pursuant to 4C1.1 becomes the applicable guideline for your sentencing calculation.

For example, say that you originally had a base level offense of 24, carrying a 51-61 month guideline range, and were sentenced to the lower end of the range (51). If you are eligible for a reduction, your new base level offense would be 22, your guideline range would be 41-51 months’ imprisonment, and a Court could sentence you to the new low of 41 months’ imprisonment – essentially one full year less than your original term.


If you have already been sentenced and believe you are eligible for a reduction pursuant to 4C1, contact a federal criminal defense and appeals attorney today to move forward with your motion immediately.

If you are still facing a federal prosecution, it is imperative that you have a federal criminal defense attorney by your side who is well-versed with the sentencing guidelines and any new legislation, such as 4C1, in order to set you up for the best possible result at your federal sentencing.