Monday, August 2, 2010

The 9th Circuit Court finds Enhancements of Sentences Warranted

The 9th Circuit affirmed a judgment that enhanced Miguel Rosas's sentences after he voluntarily fled to allegedly deny responsibility for the sentencing of charges, effectively obstructing justice.

Rosas was found guilty by the district court of conspiracy to possess marijuana with intent to distribute and possession with intent to distribute. He signed a presentence report for his release on bond pending his sentencing. After doing so he fled and was later arrested and charged for failure to appear. The presentence report was therefore updated and recommended 70 to 87 months for his drug convictions, the statutory maximum for each of which was 40 years. The district court sentenced Rosas to 53 months for his drug convictions and 10 months for his failure to appear.

Rosas appealed on the grounds that this sentence violated his constitutional rights to due process and protection from double jeopardy. Rosas also argued that the sentence constituted impermissible double counting under the sentencing guidelines.

The 9th Circuit Court upheld the sentences of the district court finding that the Double Jeopardy Clause was not violated when accounting for Rosas's failure to appear and enhanced sentences were appropriate. The Court also found that double counting had not occurred in the case of his enhanced sentences as it allows two enhancements on the basis of failure to appear: one for obstruction of justice and the second for commission of an offense while on release. Finally, the Court found that the rule-of-lenity did not apply in this case because Rosas's flight was voluntary, thus indicating that he did not accept responsibility for his criminal actions.

This case is: United States v. Rosas: 9th Cir.; July 27, 2010; 09-10011.