United States v. Vasquez-Cruz

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 08-30-2012
  • Case #: 11-10467
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges Hug and Rawlinson
  • Full Text Opinion

In reviewing a district court’s denial of a departure, the court of appeals will review the denial only for substantive reasonableness, not procedural correctness.

Jose Maria Vasquez-Cruz was convicted for illegal reentry of a deported alien after the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested him in Reno, Nevada. Vasquez-Cruz previously had been convicted of five criminal offenses, including battery. He appealed his conviction, arguing that the district court procedurally erred when it (1) failed to consider “whether he was entitled to a [downward] departure under the Sentencing Guidelines before considering whether he was entitled to a variance” in violation of U.S.S.G. § 1B1.1, and (2) failed to give an adequate explanation of its sentencing decision. Vasquez-Cruz further argued that his cultural assimilation and decreased mental capacity entitled him to a downward departure from the standard 24 to 30 month sentence. The Court declined to review the district court’s discretionary decision for procedural correctness, noting that the Court reviews a district court’s denial of a departure only for substantive reasonableness. Additionally, the Court upheld the district court’s sentence, concluding that it was “reasonable in light of the totality of circumstances” after balancing his multiple prior convictions against his cultural assimilation and mental capacity. AFFIRMED.

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