Thursday, August 29, 2019
Panel Says Double Jeopardy Clause Not Offended Even Though Probation Sentence Has Been Fully Served; It Was Unlawfully Imposed in Light of Mandatory Minimum
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The prohibition against double jeopardy does not preclude requiring a man to serve five years in prison—the mandatory minimum term for his offense—although he has already completed the term of probation to which he was initially sentenced, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held.
The appellant, Alex Medrano, pled guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. He was sentenced by District Court Judge Manuel Real (since deceased) to probation; the government appealed; the Ninth Circuit on March 9, 2018 said in a memorandum opinion that Real “erred by unlawfully sentencing Appellee Alex Medrano to a probationary sentence below the mandatory minimum” and remanded for resentencing; Real then imposed a five-year term.
Appealing that sentence, Medrano cited the Ninth Circuit’s 1986 decision in United States v. Arrellano-Rios which says that “increasing a legal sentence that already has been fully served would violate the Double Jeopardy Clause.”
Tuesday’s memorandum opinion responds:
“Medrano overlooks that his original sentence was not lawfully imposed, as we clearly articulated in our memorandum disposition remanding this case for resentencing….Our case law distinguishes an unlawful first sentence from a lawful one, and the Double Jeopardy Clause is not implicated when a lawful sentence is imposed after an unlawful sentence is vacated.”
“Likewise, we discern no constitutional problem with the failure to credit non-custodial time against a custodial sentence.”
A due-process argument is also rejected.
Comprising the panel were Circuit Judges Consuelo M. Callahan and Morgan Christen, joined by District Court Judge Edward M. Chen of the Northern District of California, sitting by designation.
The case is United States v. Medrano, 18-50168.
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