United States v. Joseph

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2013
  • Case #: 11-10492
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Thomas
  • Full Text Opinion

18 U.S.C. § 1791 requires consecutive sentences only when multiple convictions result from one item of controlled substance.

Defendant Dayven Joseph was charged with one count of marijuana possession while an inmate at a federal prison in December 2010, one count of providing that same marijuana to another inmate, and one separate count of marijuana possession in February 2011. The district court interpreted 18 U.S.C. § 1791(c) to require sentences on all three counts to run consecutively. The Ninth Circuit held that the plain language of § 1791(c) only required consecutive sentences when multiple convictions result from one item of controlled substance. In Joseph's case, only two of the convictions were the result of one item of marijuana. Therefore, Section 1791(c) did not require the sentence for conviction of possession in February 2011 to be consecutive with the other two counts. The district court’s plain error in interpreting the sentencing guidelines affected Joseph's substantial rights. Therefore, possibility existed he could have received a lower sentence had the district court interpreted the statute correctly. VACATED AND REMANDED.

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