Rosales-Mireles v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: June 18, 2018
  • Case #: 16-9493
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: SOTOMAYOR, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and KENNEDY, GINSBURG, BREYER, KAGAN, and GORSUCH, JJ., joined. THOMAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which ALITO, J., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

Under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b), a defendant is ordinarily entitled to relief if there was a miscalculation in determining the Sentencing Guidelines Range.

Petitioner’s criminal history score and category was elevated at sentencing due to the District Court mistakenly counting a conviction twice, resulting in higher Sentencing Guidelines. Because Petitioner did not object to the error, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reviewed for plain error under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 52(b) using the framework set out in United States v. Olano. The court upheld the sentence reasoning that the error did not satisfy the fourth prong of Olano, as it did not “seriously affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings,” as it was still within the appropriate Guidelines. The Supreme Court reversed holding that a “plain Guidelines error that affects a defendant’s rights . . . ordinarily warrants relief under Rule 52(b).” The Court reasoned that the Fifth Circuit’s “shock the conscience standard” for the fourth prong of Olano was “unduly restrictive.” The Court further reasoned that the “unnecessary deprivation of liberty” would especially undermine the fourth prong in Olano because of the district court’s role in determining the Guidelines and the court’s ability to correct their mistake. The Court added that that it is important to ensure “certainty and fairness in sentencing.” REVERSED and REMANDED.

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