Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Prior Offenses Stacked in Applying 2L1.2 Enhancement

US v. Martinez-Varela: Martinez-Varela pleaded guilty to illegal reentry following an aggravated felony. He had three prior convictions for distribution of drugs, all of which occurred and were sentenced on the same day. Each carried a 6-8 month sentence, but two were made consecutive, for a total sentence of 12-16 months. At sentencing, his Guideline range was enhanced 16 levels under USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) because the "sentence imposed" for the prior offenses was greater than 13 months. Aggregating the sentences imposed for the three offenses, the district court concluded that the 13-month threshold was passed and a 16-level increase was appropriate.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that while the specific Guideline section cited in 2L1.2 as being used to determine prior sentences does not answer the question, a related section does provide support for the aggregation approach.

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