Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, June 23, 2008

Castaing-Sosa: Mandatory Minimums are Mandatory

In U.S. v. Castaing-Sosa, No. 07-14590 (June 19, 2008), on a government appeal of a sentence, the Court reversed the sentence, because the district court’s 80-month sentence fell below the 120-month statutory mandatory minimum for Sosa’s drug trafficking conviction.
The Court noted that while Booker made the guidelines advisory, it did not affect the mandatory nature of statutory mandatory minimums. The Court noted that a sentencing court can sentence below a statutory mandatory minimum only if the government has filed a substantial assistance motion, or if the defendant is "safety-valve" eligible. Neither of these applied to Sosa. The Court concluded that while the district court was understandably concerned about the higher sentence Sosa would receive in relation to his co-defendants, it was nonetheless bound to impose the statutory minimum.