Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Friday, June 26, 2020

Tigua: First Step Act Amendment to Safety Valve Applies Only to Those Adjudicated Guilty After its Enactment

In United States v. Tigua et al., No. 19-10177 (June 26, 2020) (William Pryor, Jordan, Newsom), the Court held—without oral argument—that Section 402 of the First Step Act does not apply to those who were adjudicated guilty before the effective date of the Act, even if they were sentenced after.

Section 402 made the safety valve available to those convicted under the MDLEA.  However, it applies only to “convictions entered on or after” the enactment of the First Step Act.  The Court rejected the defendants’ argument that a conviction was “entered” upon entry of the judgment after sentencing .  Instead, the Court concluded that a conviction is “entered” when the defendant is adjudicated guilty.  To reach that conclusion, it contrasted the language used in Sections 401 and 403.  And it rejected the defendants’ reliance on the Supreme Court’s decisions in Deal and Dorsey.