Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Garcon: Disqualifying Safety-Valve Criteria in 3553(f)(1)(A)-(C) Are Disjunctive, Not Conjunctive

In United States v. Garcon, No. 19-14650 (May 18, 2021) (Jordan, Jill Pryor, Branch), the Court, after a government appeal, vacated the defendant’s sentence that had been imposed with the benefit of the safety valve in 3553(f).

The Court held that the criteria in 3553(f)(1)(A)-(C) are disjunctive, so that if any of those subsections apply, the defendant is not eligible for safety valve relief.  The Court rejected the defendant’s argument that a defendant is ineligible only if (A) through (C) all exist.  Because the defendant had a three-point offense under (B), he was ineligible for safety valve relief, even though he did not have more than 4 points under (A) or a 2-point violent offense under (C).

Judge Branch concurred, adding that the result was also supported by the rarely-used semantic canon referred to as the conjunctive negative proof.