United States v. Wirsing, No. 19-6381 (4th Cir. 2019)Annotate this Case
All defendants who are serving sentences for violations of 21 U.S.C. 841(b)(1)(A)(iii) and (B)(iii), and who are not excluded pursuant to the expressed limitations in Section 404(c) of the First Step Act, are eligible to move for relief under that Act. District courts then "may," at their discretion, "impose a reduced sentence as if sections 2 and 3 of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 were in effect at the time the covered offense was committed."
The Fourth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to reduce his sentence under the First Step Act. The court held that 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(B) is the appropriate vehicle for a First Step Act motion, and eligibility under the Act turns on the proper interpretation of a "covered offense." The court agreed with defendant and adopted his understanding that he is eligible to seek relief under the Act because, "before August 30, 2010," he "committed" a "violation" of 21 U.S.C. 841(a) and (b)(1)(B)(iii), and "the statutory penalties" for that statute "were modified by" Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act. Accordingly, the court remanded for the district court to consider defendant's motion.
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on November 21, 2019.