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United States v. Garcia

United States District Court, E.D. California

April 27, 2017

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
BALTAZAR CASTENADA GARCIA, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO REDUCE SENTENCE PURSUANT TO 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2); DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR DOCUMENTS (ECF Nos. 157, 170)

          LAWRENCE J. O'NEILL UNITED STATES CHIEF DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court are two pro se motions by Defendant Baltazar Castenada Garcia (“Defendant”). Defendant first moves for a reduction in his sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(2) (“§ 3582”), in accordance with section 1B1.10(b)(1) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines and Amendment 782[1] to the USSG. ECF No. 157. The Government filed an opposition to Defendant's § 3582 motion, ECF No. 158, and Defendant has filed a reply, ECF No. 161. Defendant has also requested that the Court provide him with all documentation pertaining to his case. ECF No. 170. Upon a thorough review of the parties' briefing, the record in the case, including the Probation Office's Presentence Report (“PSR”), and the relevant law, the Court DENIES Defendant's § 3582 motion, and DENIES Defendant's request for his case documents.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On August 17, 2015, Defendant entered a guilty plea on both counts of a two-count Superseding Information; Count 1 charged him with Conspiracy to Manufacture and Distribute 50 or more Plants of Marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), and Count 2 Charged him with Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Marijuana, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(B). ECF Nos. 95 (Plea Agreement); 99 (Superseding Information); 123 (PSR).

         According to the PSR, Defendant's base offense level was 32 (based on the amount of controlled substances[2] involved in the case), and his criminal history category of III (based on 5 criminal history points). PSR ¶¶ 18, 37. Two levels were added pursuant to §§ 2D1.1(b)(12), because Defendant maintained a premise for the purpose of manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance. Id.¶ 20. Pursuant to §§ 3E1.1(a) and (b), Defendant qualified for a 3-level base offense reduction for accepting of responsibility, to an adjusted offense level of 29. Id. ¶¶ 26-27. The PSR, which cited the 2015 Guidelines manual (incorporating all Guideline amendments) found that the Guidelines range for a defendant with an offense level of 31 and a criminal history category III was 135 to 168 months imprisonment, and the PSR recommended a 135-month sentence. Id. at 15.

         Defendant's sentencing memorandum, filed on December 3, 2015, argues that the PSR overstated his criminal history, noting that the three convictions that led to the computation of his criminal history category at III were based upon violations of section 14601 of the California Vehicle Code, and that for two of these convictions, no jail time was imposed. ECF No. 133. The Government's sentencing memorandum argued that Defendant's criminal history category was properly computed because two of the aforementioned convictions were committed while Defendant was on probation. ECF No. 135 at 1.

         On December 14, 2015, this Court sentenced Defendant. ECF No. 139. After hearing arguments from counsel, the Court found that Defendant's criminal history category was overstated, and determined that Defendant's criminal history category should be II instead of III. Under the 2015 Guidelines Manual, the Guidelines range for a Defendant with a criminal history category of II and a base offense level of 32 is 121-151 months. USSG, Chapter 5, Part A. Accordingly, the Court sentenced Defendant to a 121-month term of imprisonment on Defendant for Counts 1 and 2, to be served concurrently. ECF No. 139.

         II. SECTION 3582 MOTION

         a. Legal Standard

         “A federal court generally ‘may not modify a term of imprisonment once it has been imposed.'” Dillon v. United States, 560 U.S. 817, 819 (2010) (quoting § 3582(c)). However, a federal sentencing court is authorized to modify an imposed sentence when the relevant sentencing range was lowered subsequent to a defendant's original sentence. § 3582(c)(2); see United States v. Dunn, 728 F.3d 1151, 1155 (9th Cir. 2013) (a district court may do so “in the case of a defendant who has been sentenced to a term of imprisonment based on a sentencing range that has subsequently been lowered by the Sentencing Commission.”). Effective November 1, 2014, the Commission promulgated Amendment 782, which generally revised the Drug Quantity Table and chemical quantity tables across drug and chemical types. See Amendment 782. The Commission also voted to make the Amendment retroactively applicable to previously sentenced defendants. See USSG, sup. App'x C, amend. 788 (2014); United States v. Navarro, 800 F.3d 1104, 1107 (9th Cir. 2015).

         Determining whether a sentence reduction is appropriate under § 3582(c)(2) “requires a two-step inquiry.” Dunn, 728 F.3d at 1155. At step one, “a district court must determine whether a prisoner is eligible for a sentence modification under the Commission's policy statement in USSG § 1B1.10.” Id. That policy statement enumerates a list of amendments to the Guidelines which have lowered the sentencing ranges for certain offenses. See USSG § 1B1.10(d). In the event that one of the enumerated amendments has lowered a guideline range applicable to a defendant, the district court “shall determine the amended guideline range that would have been applicable to the defendant if the amendment(s) . . . had been in effect at the time the defendant was sentenced.” USSG § 1B1.10(b)(1).

         If the answer to step one is that the defendant is eligible for a reduced sentence, the district court turns to step two of the inquiry, where the court “must consider any applicable § 3553(a) factors and determine whether, in its discretion, the reduction authorized by reference to the policies relevant at step one is warranted in whole or in part under the particular circumstances of the case.” Dunn, 728 F.3d at 1155 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). The § 3553(a) factors include: “the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant; the purposes of sentencing; the kinds of sentences available; the sentences and ranges established by the Guidelines; relevant policy statements issued by the Sentencing Commission; the need to avoid unwarranted sentencing disparities among similarly situated defendants; and the need to provide restitution to victims.” Id. at 1158 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         b. Discussion

         By his motion, Defendant requests that the Court reduce his sentence to a 97-month term of imprisonment, erroneously contending that he never received the benefit of Amendment 782. ECF No. 157 at 2-3. In its opposition, the Government points out that the PSR incorporated the November 1, 2015 version of the Guidelines when computing his Guidelines range, and that Defendant's Guidelines range was therefore calculated pursuant to the amended Guidelines. ECF No. 158 at 1-2. ...


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