United States v. Marcia-Acosta

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 03-23-2015
  • Case #: 13-10475
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Berzon for the Court; Circuit Judges Christen and Fisher
  • Full Text Opinion

A court “may not rely on an extraneous factual-basis statement detail, standing alone, to supply the narrowing for purposes of the modified categorical approach” for sentencing, when there is “no narrowing through the indictment, information, or other charging document, and no narrowing of the offense of conviction through the actual conviction documents or pleas.”

Merlin Marcia-Acosta, a native and citizen of Honduras, was found guilty of unlawful reentry to the United States, the sentence for which is governed by the United States Sentencing Guideline ("USSG"). The sentencing court determined that Marcia-Acosta's prior conviction for aggravated assault under an Arizona statute constituted a crime of violence under the USSG by using the modified categorical approach. The sentencing court relied upon a statement made by Marcia-Acosta's defense attorney during the plea colloquy regarding the underlying facts for his conviction. The court sentenced Marcia-Acosta to 77 months in prison after applying the enhancement. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that “a sentencing court may not rely on an extraneous factual-basis statement detail, standing alone, to supply the narrowing for purposes of the modified categorical approach,” when there is “no narrowing through the indictment, information, or other charging document, and no narrowing of the offense of conviction through the actual conviction documents or pleas.” By relying upon a statement made by defense counsel during the plea colloquy, the sentencing court erred, and the error required reversal and remand for resentencing. VACATED and REMANDED.

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