US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Sandoval Martinez
Opinion Date: August 27, 2021
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to a drug conspiracy charge. In this case, authorities discovered cocaine and other drugs in the back of defendant's tobacco shop, as well as $12,424 in cash, which the authorities treated as proceeds from cocaine transactions rather than legitimate tobacco sales or to any of the other various drugs found in the shop. This resulted in a higher recommended sentencing range than defendant would have otherwise received. Therefore, the court concluded that it was clear error to treat all of the cash as cocaine proceeds and the error was not harmless. The court explained that, although the district court sentenced defendant well below the Guidelines range calculated by Probation, it did not indicate that it would have imposed the same sentence even if it erred in treating all the seized cash as drug proceeds. The court remanded for resentencing.
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