United States v. Pleasant

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 01-02-2013
  • Case #: 12-10213
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tashima for the Court; Circuit Judges Hawkins and Murguia
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant’s “agreed sentencing range” is not necessarily his “applicable sentencing range.” “The applicable guideline range is determined before consideration of any departure provision in the Guidelines Manual or any variance.”

Robert Pleasant pleaded guilty “to possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine…pursuant to a Rule 11(c)(1)(C) plea agreement.” The plea agreement identified Pleasant as eligible for sentencing “under the Career Offender guidelines, but provided instead that his sentence should be at the low end of the guidelines applicable to crack-cocaine offenses.” Pleasant was sentenced to 77 months in prison. After Pleasant’s sentencing, the U.S. Sentencing Commission “revised penalties for crack cocaine offenses under the § 2D1.1(c) drug quantity table.” Pleasant subsequently filed a notice to reduce his sentence according to the revised guidelines and received a reduced sentence of 60 months. The government appealed and argued that while Pleasant was sentenced pursuant to guidelines for crack-cocaine offenses (which were the subject of the sentencing amendment), “his applicable guidelines were the Career Offender guidelines, which had not been amended.” The Ninth Circuit, relying on the commentary from § 1B1.10, which states in relevant part that an individual’s offense level is “determined before consideration of any departure provision in the Guidelines Manual or any variance,” held that “the applicable guideline is determined pre-departure and pre-variance.” Thus, because Pleasant’s pre-variance sentence was based on the Career Offender guidelines, which were not amended, the district court erred in reducing Pleasant’s sentence. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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