Published on: Monday, June 4, 2018

In Freeman v. United States, 564 U.S. 522 (2011), the Supreme Court addressed whether a defendant who had been sentenced under a plea agreement could have her sentence reduced under 18 U.S.C. SS 3582(c)(2) when the guideline range was lowered retroactively. No single rationale commanded a majority of the Court. In Hughes v. United States, No. 17-155, a 6-3 opinion, the Court was able to reach a majority rationale for addressing the issue.  The case involved whether a defendant may seek relief under SS 3582(c)(2) if she entered a plea agreement under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure 11(c)(1)(C), which permits the defendant and the government to agree that a specific sentence or sentencing range is the appropriate disposition of the case and which binds the district court to the agreed-upon sentence once it accepts the plea agreement. In Hughes, the Court held that a district court imposes a sentence that is "based on" a guideline range for purposes of SS 3582(c)(2) so long as the range was a basis for the lower court's exercise of discretion in imposing a sentence.

The Training Division provides resources on the retroactive application of guideline amendments, here.