Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Carter

United States District Court, W.D. Virginia, Roanoke Division

June 13, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
JANICE MARIE CARTER

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ELIZABETH K. DILLON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court is Janice Marie Carter's motion for a reduced sentence pursuant to Section 404(b) of the First Step Act of 2018, filed by and through counsel. (Mot. Reduce Sent., Dkt. No. 159.)[1] The motion is brief, and it asks the court to rule without a hearing. It simply requests that the court adopt a recently-filed addendum to the PSI and then requests that the court “reduce her sentence without a hearing to a guideline sentence of 129 months, or time served, to be followed by four years of supervised release.” (Id.)[2] In the addendum, the United States Probation Office notes that Carter is eligible for a reduction in sentence pursuant to the First Step Act and 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B). As described in more detail below, the addendum concludes that Carter's mandatory minimum sentence and applicable guideline range have been reduced as a result of the First Step Act. It points out that, if the court were to impose a new sentence with a downward variance in the same proportion that the sentencing court originally imposed, then her sentence would be reduced from 180 months to 129 months.

         For the reasons discussed below, the court will grant defendant's motion to reduce sentence. Also pending before the court is the United States' motion to stay (Dkt. No. 163), in which it requests that the court stay the case in order to allow it to review the case further. It has since filed its amended response (Dkt. No. 165). Accordingly, the motion to stay (Dkt. No. 163) will be denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Carter pleaded guilty to Count One of her indictment, which charged her with conspiring to distribute fifty grams or more of cocaine base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 846. (Dkt. No. 3.) At the time, the statutory penalties for that offense, based on 50 grams or more of cocaine base, were set forth in § 841(b)(1)(A). The offense carried a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years and a maximum sentence of life. (Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) ¶ 94, Dkt. No. 155.) The supervised release term was five years to life. (Id. at ¶ 97.)

         At sentencing, the court found Carter responsible for at least 50 but less than 150 grams of cocaine base, resulting in a base offense level of 30. She received a three-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in an adjusted offense level of 27. Because she was determined to be a career offender, however, her adjusted total offense level was 34. Her criminal history category was a VI, resulting in a guideline range of 262 to 327 months. (PSR ¶¶ 11-21, 95.)

         At sentencing, the government requested a downward variance based on Carter's history and characteristics and recommended a 180-month sentence, which was the sentence the court imposed. That sentence length represented approximately 68.7% of the bottom of the guidelines range. The sentencing judge also imposed a five-year term of supervised release. Carter did not appeal, but she filed a number of subsequent motions to reduce her sentence and to reconsider the denial of those motions. None of those motions were granted, and she has not received any previous reduction in her sentence.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. First Step Act

         Carter seeks relief under Section 404 of the First Step Act of 2018. 115 Pub. L. 391, § 404, 132 Stat. 5194 (enacted Dec. 21, 2018); see also 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(B) (authorizing courts to modify a previously imposed sentence “to the extent otherwise expressly permitted by statute”). Section 404 allows-but does not require-district courts to reduce the sentence of certain defendants sentenced prior to August 3, 2010, the effective date of the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. If the court elects to reduce a sentence, it may resentence the defendant as if the sections of the Fair Sentencing Act were in effect at the time the defendant's offense was committed. See First Step Act § 404(b).

         As the parties agree, Carter meets all the criteria to be eligible for a reduction under Section 404 of the First Step Act. Specifically, her offense was committed before August 3, 2010, and the statutory penalties applicable to her offense were modified by Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act, which “reduced the statutory penalties for cocaine base offenses” in order to “alleviate the severe sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.” United States v. Peters, 843 F.3d 572, 575 (4th Cir. 2016). As relevant here, Section 2 of the Fair Sentencing Act increased the quantity of cocaine base required to trigger the statutory penalties set forth in 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(A) from 50 grams to 280 grams.

         As charged, Carter's offense involved 50 or more grams, but less than 150 grams of cocaine base, and the PSR specifically references that she was held responsible for 58.4 grams. (PSR ¶ 6.) If the court were to resentence her as if the Fair Sentencing Act were in effect, she would no longer be subject to the statutory penalties of § 841(b)(1)(A) but would instead be subject to the penalties set forth in § 841(b)(1)(B). Under that provision, Carter's statutory sentencing range is now five to forty years for a term of imprisonment and the statutory term of supervised release would be four years to life.

         Carter's guideline range also has been lowered. Applying the drug quantity guidelines in effect now (and again, because of her career offender status), her base offense level would be a 34. After the three-level decrease for acceptance of responsibility, Carter's total offense level would be 31. Her total offense level of 31 and criminal history category of VI results in an adjusted guideline range of 188 to 235 months. (See Addendum, Dkt. No. 156.) The Addendum notes that if the court were to grant a variance comparable to the variance at her original sentencing (approximately 68.7% of the bottom of the adjusted guideline range), the result would be a term of imprisonment of 129 months.

         According to the Addendum, which was issued in early February 2019, Carter had served approximately 114 months of her total 180-month sentence. (Addendum 3.) She was expected to be released, however, in December 2022, which is only about 43 months from now. Thus, a reduction from 180 ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.