Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Stevens: Courts Need Not Consider 3553(a) Factors in Section 404 Proceeding

In United States v. Stevens, No. 19-12858 (May 19, 2021) (Lagoa, Anderson, Marcus), the Court vacated the denial of a motion for a sentence reduction under Section 404 of the First Step Act.

The parties agreed, and the Court accepted, that the defendant had a “covered offense” under Section 404, and so was eligible for a reduction to his term of supervised release.  The Court then held that, although it may be best practice for district courts may consider the 3553(a) factors when exercising their discretion, Section 404 does not require that they do so.  The Court purported to follow four other circuits for that point, though it did not mention that other circuits had reached a contrary conclusion.  The Court ultimately vacated and remanded because the record did not permit meaningful appellate review of the district court’s alternative discretionary denial with respect to the term of supervised release.