Monday, April 29, 2013

Categorical Approach, Not Modified, Applies to Oregon Prior Drug Distribution Charge

US v. Medina-Campo: Medina-Campo, a Mexican national, was deported in 2005 following his conviction in Oregon on several drug counts, including distribution of heroin, for which he was sentenced to 24 months in prison.  After being stopped for DUI in Maryland, Medina-Campo was charged with illegal reentry after having been deported due to an "aggravated felony."  He pleaded guilty.  At sentencing, the district court applied a 16-level enhancement based on Medina-Campo's prior conviction being a "drug trafficking offense" (over Medina-Campo's objection) and sentenced him to 50 months in prison, 7 months below the bottom of the Guideline range.

On appeal, Medina-Campo challenged his sentence, arguing that his prior conviction was not a drug trafficking offense, as defined by the Guidelines, and his true sentencing range was only 15 to 21 months, because Oregon law include solicitation of the delivery of drugs within the delivery statute.  The Fourth Circuit disagreed and affirmed his sentence.  The court concluded that a regular categorical approach, rather than a modified one, was appropriate, rejecting Medina-Campo's argument that the Oregon statute at issue delineated multiple offenses.  Applying that approach, the court concluded that any conviction under the Oregon statute is a "drug trafficking offense."

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