Monday, February 29, 2016


No Sentencing Reduction Allowed For Career Offender Even Though Court Used Base Offense Level Under Drug Table At Original Sentencing.


In United States v. Smith, 6th Cir. 15-5853, the Sixth Circuit held that the career offender provision may be a bar to a sentencing reduction under 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2)if the defendant’s base offense level at the original sentencing was based on U.S.S.G. §2D1.1 because it was higher than the base offense level set under §4B1.1.
In 1994, Eric Smith was convicted of participating in a drug conspiracy involving 2.35 kilograms of crack cocaine. The sentencing guidelines in effect at the time set his base offense level at 38, under U.S.S.G. §2D1.1(c).  Adding a two level increase for possession of a firearm, Mr. Smith’s total offense level was 40 and resulted in a sentencing range of 360 months to life.

Mr. Smith was also found to be a career offender. However, the base offense level under U.S.S.G. §4B1.1 was 37, lower than his §2D1.1 range. Therefore, pursuant to §4B1.1, the district court did not use the career offender base offense level. The court, using the total offense level of 40, sentenced Mr. Smith to 360 months of imprisonment.
In 2014, Mr. Smith filed for a sentencing reduction based on 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) and Amendment 782. The district court denied his motion, and, on Friday, the Sixth Circuit affirmed in a published, per curium opinion. The Sixth Circuit held that Amendment 782 did not reduce Mr. Smith’s sentencing range because of his career offender status.
Amendment 782 reduced the base offense level for 2.35 kilograms of crack cocaine to 32. Adding the two level increase for the firearm results in a base offense level of 34 and a guideline range of 262 to 327. However, the Sixth Circuit reasoned, if Amendment 782 were in effect at the time of his sentencing, the district court would have used the career offender base offense level of 37. A base offense level 37, along with Mr. Smith’s Criminal History Category VI, results in a sentencing range of 360 months to life. The Sixth Circuit concluded, “because Amendment 782 does not have the effect of lowering the applicable Guidelines range due to the operation of §4B1.1, [Mr.] Smith is not eligible for a sentence reduction under § 3582(c)(2).

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