Archive | prior felony

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Information Failure

United States v. Espinal, No. 09-4344-cr (2d Cir. March 7, 2011) (Walker, Straub, Lynch, CJJ)

Here, the district court did not properly follow 21 U.S.C. § 851(b), which sets out the procedures for using a prior felony information to increase the mandatory minimum sentence in a drug case. Because both the defendant and the government were prejudiced, the circuit remanded the case for resentencing.


The government had offered to permit defendant Santo Laiz to plead guilty to a drug offense with a ten-year mandatory minimum and agreed to refrain from filing a prior felony information. But Laiz pled guilty after the deadline, by which time the government had filed the information, which alleged that Laiz had been convicted of a felony drug offense in Massachusetts under the name “Jose Luis Lai.” During Laiz’ guilty plea, the court did not ask him whether he admitted to the conviction.

In his …

Posted By
Categories: prior felony, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Friday, March 20th, 2009

For Your Information

United States v. Morales, No. 07-4202-cr (2d Cir. March 18, 2009) (per curiam)

Morales was charged in a two count drug indictment; one count had a 5-year mandatory minimum, under 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(B), while the other had a 10-year mando under § 841(b)(1)(A). Before trial, the government filed a prior felony information pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 851(a)(1). This had the effect of doubling the mandatory minimum to which Morales was exposed. But the information specifically indicated that Morales would be subject to the “enhanced penalties of Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a), 841(b)(1)(B) and 851.” After trial, but before sentencing, when it is otherwise to late to file an information, the government filed an amended information referencing § 841(b)(1)(A).

At sentencing, Morales complained that he went to trial because he believed that the only mandatory minimum he faced was 10 years: the 5 years under § 841(b)(1)(B) …

Posted By
Categories: prior felony, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Saturday, March 1st, 2008

Career Angst

United States v. Sanchez, No. 05-3812-cr (2d Cir. February 29, 2008) (Kearse, Straub, Pooler, CJJ).

In this long opinion, the court considered several challenges to recidivist sentences in a drug case. Two defendants, both “career offenders” under Guidelines section 4B1.1, got relief. A third, sentenced to an enhanced mandatory minimum, did not.

Career Offender

Title 28 U.S.C. § 994(h) directed the Sentencing Commission to develop Sentencing Guidelines for career offenders that would fix a Guideline range “at or near” the statutory maximum. Here, the district judge made statements that seemed to indicate that she believed that this section required her to sentence the defendants above the mandatory minimum, which was 120 months. She gave one defendant 235 months, and the other 188.

The court appellate court concluded that the district court’s apparent belief was incorrect. It noted that § 994(h) is a direction to the Commission, not the courts; moreover, …

Posted By
Categories: career offender, prior felony, Uncategorized

Continue Reading
Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Why Oh, Why Oh, Y.O?

United States v. Jackson, Docket No. 06-5928-cr (2d Cir. October 5, 2007) (Miner, Cabranes, CJJ, Crotty, DJ) (per curiam)

This case continues the court’s seemingly relentless, and highly questionable, line of cases upholding the use of New York State youthful offender adjudications (“Y.O.”’s) as sentencing enhancers.

In United States v. Sampson, 385 F.3d 183 (2d Cir. 2004), the court held that a Y.O. constituted a prior drug felony for purposes of the sentencing enhancements contained in 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(b) and 851.

Here, Jackson, whose Y.O doubled a five-year mandatory minimum, tried to capitalize on a potential hole in Sampson. He argued that the Sampson court’s observation that the defendant served his Y.O. sentence in an adult institution created a requirement that district courts find this to be true before enhancing a drug sentence based on a Y.O.

The court disagreed. A finding of fact on this question is not …

Posted By
Categories: adult offense, juvenile facility, mandatory minimum, prior felony, Uncategorized, Y.O., youthful offender adjudication

Continue Reading