United States v. Valdavinos-Torres

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 12-20-2012
  • Case #: 11-50529
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Zouhary for the Court; Circuit Judges Goodwin and O'Scannlain
  • Full Text Opinion

Possession of a controlled substance for sale under state law is a deportable offense under federal law where the conviction record, including the indictment, the plea agreement, the transcript of the plea proceeding, minute entry, or the judgment, indicates the substance is a controlled substance under federal law.

Jorge Valdavinos-Torres ("Valdavinos") appealed the district court’s denial of a motion to dismiss an indictment for illegal reentry. After being deported in 2008 for a conviction under California law of possession of methamphetamine for sale, Valdavinos reentered the United States. In 2010, officials again arrested and convicted Valdavinos for possession of methamphetamine. ICE took custody and a grand jury indicted Valdavinos for illegal reentry. Valdavinos argued that, because not all controlled substances under California law are classified as controlled substances under federal law, his initial conviction was not an “aggravated felony” and therefore not a deportable offense. Under the “modified categorical approach,” the Court held that the documents in the conviction record indicated that Valdavinos specifically pled guilty to possession of methamphetamine for sale, methamphetamine is a controlled substance under federal law, and therefore his conviction was a deportable offense. Specifically, the felony indictment alleged methamphetamine, the change of plea form indicated that Valdavinos specifically pled guilty to the offense of possession of methamphetamine for sale, and the minute entry and abstract of judgment reinforced that conclusion. AFFIRMED.

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