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United States v. Beamus

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 21, 2019

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Charles A. Beamus, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky at Lexington. No. 5:02-cr-00089-1-Joseph M. Hood, District Judge.

         ON BRIEF AND RESPONSE:

          Alex M. Hyman, Karen R. King, PAUL, WEISS, RIFKIND, WHARTON & GARRISON LLP, New York, New York, for Appellant.

         ON MOTION TO REMAND:

          John Patrick Grant, Charles P. Wisdom, Jr., UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Lexington, Kentucky, for Appellee.

          Before: MOORE, SUTTON, and NALBANDIAN, Circuit Judges.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         Charles A. Beamus moved for resentencing under the First Step Act of 2018. But his career-offender status under the Sentencing Guidelines, the district court ruled, made him ineligible. That was wrong. Beamus's extensive criminal history, to be sure, may have something to say about the prudence of granting his resentencing request. But it has nothing to say about his eligibility for it. We reverse and remand.

         In 2002, a jury convicted Beamus of conspiracy to possess 6.68 grams of crack cocaine with intent to distribute, 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) (2002), along with several related firearms offenses, 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(c)(1)(A)(i). This was not Beamus's first encounter with the criminal laws. He had other prior convictions, ranging from the minor (misdemeanor unauthorized use of a motor vehicle) to the major (felony first-degree manslaughter) to many more in between.

         The presentence report first calculated Beamus's guidelines range. It noted that the guidelines range for conspiracy to possess crack cocaine is typically set by U.S.S.G. § 2D1.1. But because of his criminal history, the guidelines range came from the "career offender" guideline, § 4B1.1, not the crack cocaine guideline, § 2D1.1. That mattered. Under the crack cocaine guideline, Beamus's guidelines range would have been 120 to 150 months. But because the career offender guideline applied instead, his range became 360 months to life.

         The presentence report then calculated Beamus's statutory range. Because he was convicted of conspiracy to possess over five grams of cocaine, that meant his punishment was set by 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B) (2002). For first time offenders, that required a sentence of 60 to 480 months. But because the government filed an information under 21 U.S.C. § 851, his criminal history also came into play. As a result, he received a higher statutory range under § 841: 120 months to life.

         The judge embraced the findings of the presentence report and settled on a 420-month sentence. Of that penalty, 360 months were for conspiracy to possess crack cocaine (served concurrently with 360 months for a related firearm offenses), while the other 60 months were for another related firearm offense, served consecutively, as required by statute.

         Three legal developments since Beamus's sentencing potentially affect his appeal.

         Guidelines range reduction. The first development is that the Sentencing Commission has lowered the guidelines range imposed for crack cocaine offenses under § 2D1.1 several times. See, e.g., U.S.S.G. amends. 706, 750. Defendants sentenced under the old guidelines may seek resentencing using 18 U.S.C. ยง 3582(c)(2). That provision states that when a defendant "has been sentenced . . . based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission," a court "may reduce the term of imprisonment," ...


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