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Maximum Term on Revocation of Supervised Release Is Based on Class of Underlying Felony at the Time of the Offense

United States v. Turlington, --- F.3d ----, 2012 WL 4237611 (3d Cir. Sept. 21, 2012) (published Oct. 16, 2012). In this case defendant’s conviction for conspiring to distribute more than 50 grams of cocaine base was a class A felony, permitting up to five years of imprisonment on revocation of supervised release pursuant to 18 U.S.C.A. § 3583(e)(3). The Fair Sentencing Act amendments reduced the maximum term of imprisonment for Turlington’s offense, such that it is now a class B felony, which would now permit only three years of imprisonment of revocation of supervised release.

The Circuit held that where an underlying offense was a class A felony at the time of conviction, but has since been reduced to a class B felony, the maximum term of imprisonment upon violation of supervised release, pursuant to 18 U.S.C.A. § 3583(e)(3), is still determined based on the classification of the offense at the time of conviction. The Court cited Johnson v. United States, 529 U.S. 694 (2000), in which the Supreme Court found that new revocation terms were a part of the first offense of conviction, and McNeil v. United States, 131 S.Ct 2218 (2011), holding that in determining whether a prior conviction qualified as a predicate under the ACCA, a court must look at the prior offense as it was at the time of conviction.

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