When the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia decided the case of United States v. Mosquera-Murillo, it created a circuit-split on whether individuals charged under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (codified as 46 U.S.C. § 705) are entitled to relief under the "Safety Valve" provision of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f). The "Safety Valve" allows individuals who meet certain criteria to be sentenced according to the sentencing guidelines, regardless of any mandatory minimum sentences. This case note compares the holding of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to the Eleventh Circuit's holding in United States v. Alexander, which held that because the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act is not specifically listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f), defendants charged under the Act are not entitled to relief. This Note analyzes the approaches taken by both courts and concludes that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia correctly decided the issue. The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia concluded that because the elements for the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act are supplied by a statute specifically enumerated in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f), the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act qualifies as an "offense under" the "Safety Valve" statute. Accordingly, this Note concludes that the consequences of the circuit split are potentially severe and that the Supreme Court should grant the petition for certiorari and adopt the reasoning of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Alexander D. Andruzzi,
Circuit Split on the Application of the "Safety Valve" Provision as Applied to the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act - Alexander and Mosquera-Murillo,
Ocean & Coastal L.J.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.mainelaw.maine.edu/oclj/vol24/iss2/6