West Virginia Law Review

Document Type

Student Note


This Note discusses the implications of the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Concepcion v. United States, which left open whether district courts must reanalyze the 18 U.S.C.A. § 3553(a) factors when ruling on a motion to reduce a defendant’s sentence under the First Step Act. The decision settled a dispute between the First, Fifth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits, which did not require sentencing courts to consider intervening factual or legal developments; and the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuits which did. However, the Supreme Court’s decision only obligates a district court to consider intervening factual and legal developments when raised by the parties. This places the burden on defendants to raise the issue, which is why this Note argues that instead, district courts should always be required to reanalyze the sentencing factors when ruling on a First Step Act motion. The sentencing factors account for the defendant’s unique characteristics, especially against the backdrop of the First Step Act, which Congress designed to remedy an unjust blanket sentencing system.

This Note aims to explain the War on Drugs, the Fair Sentencing Act, the First Step Act, and the Supreme Court’s decision in Concepcion. After this, the discussion focuses on the validity of each circuit court of appeal’s caselaw and the subsequent impacts on public policy.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.