United States v. Martinez

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 11-14-2014
  • Case #: 13-10563
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Owens for the Court; Circuit Judges Schroeder and Friedland
  • Full Text Opinion

If a defendant is convicted under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) and has three prior violent felony convictions, a fifteen-year mandatory minimum sentence will be imposed.

After Michael Anthony Martinez violated 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), by being a felon in possession of ammunition, the severity of his sentence depended on whether he had three prior violent felony convictions in his criminal history. Under 18 U.S.C. § 924(e), “[a] defendant with three prior ‘violent felony’ convictions faces a fifteen-year mandatory-minimum sentence if convicted of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g).” A violent felony under the residual clause of 18 U.S.C. is a crime that “…otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another.” The court determined that Martinez had three prior violent felony convictions based in part on his California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 conviction, and sentenced Martinez to the mandatory-minimum sentence of fifteen years. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that under the residual clause, an offense is violent when it “presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another” and when it is “roughly similar to the offenses of burglary, arson, extortion, and crimes involving explosives.” Following the ruling in Sykes v. United States, the district court determined Martinez’s California Vehicle Code § 2800.2 conviction was a violent felony because fleeing from police in a vehicle posed a safety risk to the public and the degree of danger in fleeing was comparable to that involved in burglary, arson, extortion, and crimes involving explosives. Therefore, the panel held that the district court did not err in imposing the fifteen-year sentence for Martinez’s violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). AFFIRMED.

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