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Criminal - Sentence - Machine gun.

Byline: Mass. Lawyers Weekly Staff

Where a defendant who pleaded guilty to a charge of possessing a machine gun was sentenced to 46 months, the sentence was not procedurally flawed or substantively unreasonable.


"[Defendant Angel Rafael] Contreras-Delgado contends that the district court abused its discretion when it did not allow the testimony of Dr. [Alexandra] Ramos at the sentencing hearing and further failed to consider 3353(a) sentencing factors.

"Here, the district court not only reviewed Dr. Ramos's report from the bench, but it summarized her recommendations and, as reflected in the district court's correction of counsel's interpretation, demonstrated command of its contents. Moreover, Dr. Ramos's entire report was included in the PSR, where, as the district court noted, it could guide the Bureau of Prisons and Probation as they determined appropriate treatment. Further, Contreras-Delgado's counsel fully explained to the court his view that Dr. Ramos's report supported a mitigation of the sentence below the GSR. In sum, under any standard of review, Contreras-Delgado's claim that substitution of Dr. Ramos's report in lieu of testimony constituted procedural error is not meritorious.

"Contrary to Contreras-Delgado's assertion, the district court properly considered the 3553(a) sentencing factors, including relevant mitigating and aggravating factors; its weighing of those factors was well within its discretion.

"Moreover, the district court discussed the relevant sentencing factors on the record.

"The district court expressly found that a sentence above the GSR was further supported by the statutory sentencing considerations of: 'reflect[ing] the seriousness of the offense, promot[ing] respect for the law, protect[ing] the public from further crimes by Mr. Contreras[-Delgado], and address[ing] the issues of deterrence and punishment.' That finding must be afforded a high level of deference on appeal, regardless of the standard of review applied.

"Accordingly, Contreras-Delgado's claim fails under any standard of review. Even under the more defendant-friendly abuse of discretion standard, Contreras-Delgado's arguments fail because his sentence was properly based on permissible 3553(a) sentencing factors, and the allegedly mitigating factors were considered by the district court.

"In this case, Contreras-Delgado faced a statutory maximum sentence of up to ten years of imprisonment. ... His actual sentence of less than four years is not only defensibly within 'the expansive boundaries of [the] universe' of reasonable sentences, but also well within the statutory bounds of the district court's discretion, and represents a fraction of Contreras-Delgado's exposure.

" The district court provided individualized assessments of Contreras-Delgado's conduct as well as the other 3553 factors, and reasonably explained the basis for the sentence imposed.

"We conclude that Contreras-Delgado's sentence was procedurally and substantively reasonable."

United States v. Contreras-Delgado (Lawyers Weekly No. 01-014-19) (23 pages) (Katzmann, J., of the United States Court of International Trade, sitting by designation) Appealed from the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Docket No. 17-1962) (Jan. 17, 2019).

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Title Annotation:United States v. Contreras-Delgado, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit
Publication:Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
Date:Jan 23, 2019
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