Friday, June 23rd, 2006

Prior Convictions Triggering Career Offender Treatment Need Not Be Charged in Indictment, So Long as Sentence Does Not Exceed Legislative Maximum

United States v. Ramirez, Docket No. 05-4575-cr (2d Cir. June 23, 2006) (Meskill, Cabranes, Wesley) (per curiam): The title basically says it all. In this very short opinion, the Circuit confirms that Booker does not alter the long-standing rule that “the filing of a prior felony information under [21 U.S.C.] § 851(a)(1) ‘is required only where the statutory maximum or maximum penalty under Part D of Title 21 is sought to be enhanced, not where a defendant, by virtue of his criminal history, receives an increased sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines within the statutory range.'” Op. 3 (quoting United States v. Whitaker, 938 F.2d 1551, 1552 (2d Cir. 1991) (emphases in original)). Here, Ramirez faced a Guidelines range of 151 to 188 months because he qualified as a Career Offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1, based on prior convictions not alleged in the indictment (charging him with distributing an unspecified quantity of heroin in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C)). The prior-felony information requirement of § 851(a) was not triggered because his 151-month sentence did not exceed the 20-year maximum allowable under § 841(b)(1)(C).

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