United States v. Israel Lopez, Jr. (5th Cir. February 26, 2021)

The Federal Docket

March 5, 2021

Sentencing Reductions – 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2) authorizes a district court to reduce a defendant’s sentence when their initial applicable guidelines range has subsequently been lowered and played a “relevant part” in the defendant’s sentencing.

The Court considered whether an inmate was eligible for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), which allows reductions for an inmate who “has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered.” The defendant had received a below-Guidelines sentence on two counts of drug distribution of cocaine and marijuana, run concurrently, based in part on his cooperation with the Government.

The Court held that, because the drug Guidelines had been amended in a way that would have reduced the defendant’s base offense level by two points, and because the Guidelines had played a relevant part in the framework within which the defendant’s below-Guidelines sentence was imposed, the defendant had been “sentenced based on a sentencing range that had subsequently been lowered.”

Appeal from the Western District of Texas
Opinion by Owen, joined by Wiener and Dennis

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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