Terry, Tarahrick v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: January 8, 2021
  • Case #: 20-5904
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 828 Fed. Appx. 563 (11th Cir. 2020)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether pre-August 3, 2010, crack offenders sentenced under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C) have a “covered offense” under Section 404 of the First Step Act.

In 2008, Petitioner was charged under 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1)(C), possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute. Petitioner pled guilty and at sentencing, as a career offender, he fell under the enhanced advisory guideline range. In 2019, Petitioner moved to reduce his sentence asserting that the Fair Sentencing Act modified all § 841(a)(1) penalties and that he had a “covered offense” in accordance with Section 404 of the First Step Act and was therefore eligible for relief. The district court denied the motion and the court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the Fair Sentencing Act only modified certain subsections, which did not include § 841(a)(1)(C). The court of appeals held Petitioner did not have a “covered offense” and therefore, he was not entitled to a reduction of sentence. Petitioner contends that the opinion below is wrong. Petitioner argues that “the availability of Section 404 relief . . . currently depends on geography” and underlines the confusion and inequity that arise from a deep circuit split. Petitioner also argues that circuits holding similar interpretations to the lower court are contrary to congressional intent, to give relief to low-level drug offenders, not give relief to major trafficking offenders, as the lower court’s interpretation currently holds.

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