Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Court affirms district court's refusal to allow meth defendant to withdraw guilty plea; 295-month sentence affirmed

U.S. v. Sanchez-Leon, 2014 WL 4178302 (10th Cir. 8/25/14) (published) - The district court properly denied Mr. Sanchez-Leon's motion to withdraw his guilty plea on meth distribution charges. He did not assert innocence and his responses at the change-of-plea hearing indicated he understood the charges, consulted with counsel, and entered the plea voluntarily. His 295-month sentence was procedurally reasonable. Although the district court erroneously concluded it could not consider deportability as a possible variance factor, the error was harmless in light of statements by the court that it would have given the same sentence even if it had considered Mr. Sanchez-Leon's deportability and the court's expression of concern that a variance based on factors such as deportability would give rise to sentencing disparity between similarly situated defendants. The district court did not treat the Guidelines as mandatory by presuming a Guidelines recommendation would be reasonable during sentencing; it correctly treated the Guidelines range as just one of many factors it should consider. The Tenth concludes from the record that the sentence was substantively reasonable as well.