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United States v. Rodriquez

Supreme Court of the United States

January 15, 2008, Argued; May 19, 2008, Decided

No. 06-1646


 [*380]  [**1786]  Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

 Under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(A)(ii), a state drug-trafficking conviction qualifies as "a serious drug offense" if "a maximum term of imprisonment of ten years or more is prescribed by law" for the "offense." The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that "the maximum term of imprisonment . . . prescribed by law" must be determined without taking recidivist enhancements into account. 464 F.3d 1072, 1082 (2006). We reverse.

At issue in this case is respondent's sentence on his 2004 conviction in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, in  [****8] violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1). Respondent had two prior state convictions in California for residential burglary and three state convictions in Washington for delivery of a controlled substance, in violation of Wash. Rev. Code §§ 69.50.401(a)(1)(ii)-(iv) (1994).1  Respondent's three Washington drug convictions occurred on the same day but were based on deliveries that took  [***725] place on three separate dates. Sentencing Order in No. CR-03-142-RHW [*381]  (ED Wash., Sept. 3, 2004), p. 5, App. 245, 250 (hereinafter Sentencing Order).  At the time of respondent's drug offenses, the Washington statute that respondent was convicted of violating stated that, upon conviction, a defendant could be "imprisoned for not more than five years," §§ 69.50.401(a)(1)(ii)-(iv), but another provision specified that "[a]ny person convicted of a second or subsequent offense" could "be imprisoned for a term up to twice the term otherwise authorized," § 69.50.408(a). Thus, by virtue of this latter, recidivist, provision respondent faced a maximum penalty of imprisonment for [**1787]  10 years. The judgment of conviction for each of the drug-delivery charges listed the maximum term of imprisonment for the offense as "ten years,"  [****9] App. 16, 42, 93, but the state court sentenced respondent to concurrent sentences of 48 months' imprisonment on each count, id., at 21, 47, 98.

In the federal felon-in-possession case, the Government asked the District Court to sentence respondent under ACCA, which sets a 15-year minimum sentence "[i]n the case of a person who violates section 922(g) of [Title 18] and has three previous convictions . . . for a violent felony or a serious drug offense, or both, committed on occasions different from one another . . . ." 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(1) (2000 ed., Supp. V). The Government argued that respondent's two prior California burglary convictions were for "'violent felonies.'" Pet. for Cert. 4. See § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii) (2000 ed.) (listing "burglary" as a "violent felony"). The District Court agreed, and that ruling is not at issue here.

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553 U.S. 377 *; 128 S. Ct. 1783 **; 170 L. Ed. 2d 719 ***; 2008 U.S. LEXIS 4313 ****; 76 U.S.L.W. 4302; 21 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 221



United States v. Rodriquez, 464 F.3d 1072, 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 24845 (9th Cir. Wash., 2006)

Disposition: 464 F.3d 1072, reversed and remanded.


sentence, maximum, enhancement, recidivist, maximum term of imprisonment, maximum term, guidelines, offender, prescribe by law, imprisonment, state law, convictions, recidivism, prior conviction, prescribed, offenses, mandatory, felony, cases, sentencing guidelines, maximum penalty, qualifies, purposes, drug offense, state court, burglary, federal court, ambiguity, five year, departure

Criminal Law & Procedure, Sentencing Guidelines, Adjustments & Enhancements, Armed Career Criminals, Controlled Substances, Delivery, Distribution & Sale, Penalties, Elements, Sentencing, Multiple Convictions, Entry of Pleas, Guilty Pleas, Allocution & Colloquy, Imposition of Sentence, Statutory Maximums