United States v. Leal-Felix

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 11-30-2011
  • Case #: 09-50426
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Judge N. R. Smith for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski; Circuit Judges Schroeder, Graber, Wardlaw, Fletcher, Paez, M. Smith, Jr., and Ikuta; Circuit Judge McKeown concurring; Circuit Judge Rawlinson dissenting
  • Full Text Opinion

Traffic citations are not arrests under the traditional definition and therefore should not be included in calculating a sentence based on the Sentencing Guidelines.

Leal-Felix appealed the decision of the district court when it included his two traffic citations in calculating his sentence under the Sentencing Guidelines. Following a case from the Seventh Circuit, the district court concluded his traffic citations were to be considered 'arrests' under the Sentencing Guidelines. The Court held as a matter of first impression in this circuit that traffic citations are not considered 'arrests' and should not be included under the Sentencing Guidelines. The Court concluded based on the traditional definition of arrest and the Supreme Court decisions in Whren and Atwater, traffic stops are not traditional arrests, only seizures which must be reasonable. The Court therefore concluded that the citations should not have been included in the sentencing calculation. VACATED and REMANDED.

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