In 2017 then Attorney General Sessions required all federal prosecutors to charge defendants with the most serious charges that could be proved that would carry the longest potential sentences. On January 29, 2021 Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson instructed all federal prosecutors to disregard the 2017 Sessions memo. He directed prosecutors to evaluate potential charges on a case-by-case basis and required that they reflect an individualized assessment of relevant facts while longer-term Justice Department policies are being formulated.
This means prosecutors once again have discretion to bring lesser charges when warranted by the facts of a particular case. We will update this blog as DOJ policies evolve under the Biden Administration.