United States v. Sykes

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 09-26-2011
  • Case #: 10-50399
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Alarcón for the Court; Circuit Judges O’Scannlain and Silverman
  • Full Text Opinion

Since a mandatory statutory minimum sentence applied to a defendant and was included in the amended Sentencing Guidelines, the district court’s refusal to lower the defendant’s sentence was proper and did not constitute a new sentence, therefore it neither violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights nor invoked the Double Jeopardy Clause, and since the Fair Sentencing Act is not retroactive, the defendant’s due process rights were not violated.

Jerome Sykes was indicted on four counts of distribution of a controlled substance and pled guilty to two counts. At his plea hearing, the court told Sykes that the sentence for one of his counts was a mandatory minimum of five years, and the other count was ten years. At his sentencing hearing, the court calculated his mandatory Sentencing Guidelines range at 121 to 151 months, and he was sentenced to 121 months. After the U.S. Sentencing Commission promulgated and passed Amendment 706 to their Guidelines, Sykes filed a motion to reduce his sentence based on the new Amendment. The district court calculated his sentence range as 97 to 121 years, and held that since the mandatory minimum sentence was 120 months, his sentence was 120 months. Sykes appealed to the Ninth Circuit to determine if the district court’s denial in part to reduce his sentence was proper, arguing that the modification of his sentence to the mandatory minimum constituted an application of a new sentence, in violation of Dillon. The Ninth Circuit determined that since the minimum sentence applied at Sykes’ modification hearing and since the amended guidelines included the statutory mandatory minimum, the modification to 120 months was not a new sentence and was under the district court’s discretion. Furthermore, the Ninth Circuit determined that since the Fair Sentencing Act is not retroactive, Sykes’ was not denied due process when the district court did not apply the Act. Finally, since the sentence after the modification hearing was not a new sentence, Sykes’ Sixth Amendment rights were not infringed upon and the Double Jeopardy clause was not implicated. AFFIRMED.

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