Eleventh Circuit - First Step Act of 2018

United States v. Denson, 963 F.3d 1080 (11th Cir. 2020). A defendant does not have a right to be present at a hearing on their § 404(b) motion for a reduced sentence.

United States v. Jones, 962 F.3d 1290 (11th Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) eligibility depends on whether the defendant’s original offense triggered the higher penalties in §§ 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) or (B)(iii). Eligibility does not depend on the defendant’s relevant conduct found by a preponderance of the evidence at sentencing. If the defendant’s enhanced penalties were a judge-made, beyond-a-reasonable-doubt finding before Apprendi and that finding would not change the now-applicable statutory penalties, then the movant is ineligible for relief. A court may reduce an eligible defendant’s sentence below the revised Guidelines range.

United States v. Tigua, 963 F.3d 1138 (11th Cir. 2020). Section 402 of the First Step Act, which amends the safety valve criteria, does not apply to a defendant who pleaded guilty before, but was sentenced after, the FSA was passed.

United States v. Smith, 967 F.3d 1196 (11th Cir. 2020). Section 403, which eliminated stacking of multiple contemporaneous counts of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) as if they were subsequent offenses, does not apply to a defendant whose sentence was “pronounced in the district court” before the First Step Act was passed. Defendant’s 1,105-month sentence for three counts of robbery, one count of carjacking, and four counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of those crimes, while “unmistakably severe,” did not violate the Eighth Amendment and was not substantively unreasonable.

United States v. Taylor, 982 F.3d 1295 (11th Cir. 2020). A defendant convicted of both covered and non-covered offenses (those modified by the Fair Sentencing Act and those not modified by the Act) is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act.

United States v. Harris, 989 F.3d 908 (11th Cir. 2021). The defendant’s medical conditions (lupus, scleroderma, hypertension, glaucoma, and past cases of bronchitis and sinus infections) were not “extraordinary and compelling reasons” justifying compassionate release in light of Covid-19. Of those conditions, only hypertension was recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a condition that “might” put an adult at increased risk of Covid-19.

United States v. Bryant, 996 F.3d 1243 (11th Cir. 2021). Section 1B1.13 applies to defendant-filed motions for compassionate release. Application Note 1(D) does not grant courts discretion to develop other “extraordinary and compelling reason[s].”

United States v. Edwards, 997 F.3d 1115 (11th Cir. 2021). Section 404(b) of the First Step Act allows a court to impose a term of supervised release “[s]o long as a defendant’s overall ‘sentence’ is ‘reduced.’” Here, the court lawfully reduced the defendant’s life sentence to 262 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by eight years of supervised release.

United States v. Edwards, 997 F.3d 1115 (11th Cir. 2021). Section 404(b) of the First Step Act is its own procedural vehicle, and Section 404(b) motions need not comply with 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B).

United States v. Garcon, 997 F.3d 1301 (11th Cir. 2021). A defendant is disqualified from statutory safety valve relief if any of the three conditions found at 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f)(1) is met. That is, a defendant is barred from safety valve relief if the defendant has more than four criminal history points, or has a prior three-point offense, or has a prior two-point violent offense.

United States v. Stevens, 997 F.3d 1307 (11th Cir. 2021). In ruling on a § 404(b) motion, a court is not required to consider the § 3553(a) factors. A court, however, must explain its discretionary determination to allow meaningful appellate review, and here, the court’s “bare bones order that solely denie[d] . . . a sentence reduction without more [was] insufficient.”

United States v Gonzalez, --F.4th--, 2021 WL 3671430 (11th Cir. Aug. 19, 2021). “A sentence imposed upon revocation of supervised release is eligible for a sentence reduction under § 404(b) of the First Step Act when the underlying crime is a covered offense within the meaning of the Act.”

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