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Statutory Interpretation – First Step Act – Mandatory Minimum Penalty

United States Supreme Court

Case Name: Tarahrick Terry v. United States

Case No.: 20-5904

Focus: Statutory Interpretation – First Step Act – Mandatory Minimum Penalty 

In 1986, Congress established mandatory-minimum penalties for cocaine offenses. If the quantity of cocaine involved in an offense exceeded a minimum threshold, then courts were required to impose a heightened sentence. Congress set the quantity thresholds far lower for crack offenses than for powder offenses. But it has since narrowed the gap by increasing the thresholds for crack offenses more than fivefold. The First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. 115–391, 132 Stat. 5194, makes those changes retroactive and gives certain crack offenders an opportunity to receive a reduced sentence. The question here is whether crack offenders who did not trigger a mandatory minimum qualify. They do not.

Affirmed

Dissenting:

Concurring: SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.

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Derek A Hawkins is Corporate Counsel, at Salesforce.

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