United States v. Lizarraras-Chacon (9th Cir. September 2021)

The Federal Docket

October 5, 2021

Sentence Reductions/Retroactive Guidelines Amendments – It was an abuse of discretion for the district court, in considering a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 USC 3582(c)(2), to erroneously conclude it could not consider “intervening developments” to the mandatory minimum sentencing laws the defendant was previously sentenced under.

Jose Lizarraras-Chacon filed a motion for a sentence reduction under 18 USC 3582(c)(2) based on an amendment to the Guidelines that retroactively reduced his guidelines range. Before the district court, Lizarras-Chacon and the Government agreed that the amendment applied to the defendant’s sentence and that the First Step Act of 2018 had amended the mandatory minimum sentences applicable to his charges. The district court denied the motion and opined that the court could not consider the changes to the mandatory minimum under the First Step Act in its analysis under 3553(a).

On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court abused its discretion when it “erroneously concluded that it could not consider intervening developments affecting the mandatory minimum in its 3553(a) factor analysis.” The Court explained that “legislative and judicial developments affecting mandatory statutory minimums are relevant considerations to the 18 USC 3553(a) factors at step two of a motion for reduction of sentence under 18 USC 3582(c)(2).”

On appeal from the District of Oregon
Opinion by Pregerson, joined by Hawkins and McKeown

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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