Third Circuit - First Step Act of 2018

United States v. Hodge, 948 F.3d 160 (3d Cir. 2020). The First Step Act’s reduced mandatory minimum penalties for multiple counts of § 924(c) convictions did not apply to a defendant who was awaiting resentencing on related charges when it became law. The First Step Act applies retroactively only if a sentence had not been imposed at the time of its enactment. Focusing on “initial-sentence imposition” rather than “ultimate-sentence imposition” would unfairly favor defendants whose appeals took longer to resolve.

United States v. Jackson, 964 F.3d 197 (3d Cir. 2020). The determination of whether a defendant sentenced for a “covered offense” under section 404 of the First Step Act turns on the defendant’s statute of conviction, rather than his actual conduct. Although the defendants possessed more than 28 grams of crack cocaine, which is the upper threshold under 18 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B)(iii) as amended by the Act, they were only convicted of possessing five grams or more of crack, and thus were eligible for reductions.

United States v. Birt, 966 F.3d 257 (3d Cir. 2020). The defendant was not eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act because his conviction under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and § 841(b)(1)(C) is not a “covered offense.” The text of those sections was not modified by the Fair Sentencing Act.

United States v. Easter, 975 F.3d 318 (3d Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, which permits a court to impose a reduced sentence for a covered offense, requires a court to consider all applicable § 3553(a) factors.

United States v. Easter, 975 F.3d 318 (3d Cir. 2020). Section 404(b) of the First Step Act, which permits a court to impose a reduced sentence for a covered offense, does not require plenary resentencing at which the defendant has a right to be present.

United States v. Hart, 983 F.3d 638 (3d Cir. 2020). Section 404(c) of the First Step Act, which prohibits multiple sentencing reductions under § 404(b), is not a jurisdictional bar, and thus the government may waive it.

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