United States v. Lancaster, No. 20-6571 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
In 2010, Lancaster was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to traffic in crack cocaine and cocaine powder. In 2020 he sought a sentence reduction under the First Step Act of 2018, 132 Stat. 5194, to the sentence that would have been imposed, had the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 been in effect at the time of his offense. The district court denied Lancaster’s motion, concluding on the merits that it would have imposed the same sentence on him had the Fair Sentencing Act been in effect. The court did not recalculate Lancaster’s Guidelines range and apparently did not consider the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors in light of current circumstances. Lancaster argued that he no longer qualifies as a career offender for purposes of sentencing.
The Fourth Circuit vacated. Additional analysis was required. Lancaster was convicted under 21 U.S.C. 846, a statute for which sentences were modified by the Fair Sentencing Act, and is eligible for discretionary relief under the First Step Act, which made the Fair Sentencing Act retroactive. The court was, therefore, required to consider that Lancaster no longer could be sentenced as a career offender and consider section 3553's factors.