US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Reyes-Contreras
Opinion Date: November 30, 2018
Judge: Per Curiam
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
Reyes-Contreras pleaded guilty of illegal reentry. Because he had been convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Missouri, the district court applied a 16-level USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii) sentencing enhancement for a crime of violence. The Fifth Circuit vacated and remanded, finding that Missouri's manslaughter statute was non-generic. Although the court found that the statute was divisible and could warrant an enhancement under the modified categorical approach, the documents of conviction did not indicate the subsection of conviction. On rehearing, en banc, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the application of the enhancement, overruling its own precedent. Defense counsel acknowledged that the crime was a killing by baseball bat; there was no need to dissect the details of the crime. The statute is divisible. Subdivision (1) is generic manslaughter and formed the basis of Reyes-Contreras’s conviction. It is a crime of violence on which the sentencing enhancement was properly based. Even if the statute were indivisible, Subdivision (2) has as an element the use of force under a proper understanding of Supreme Court precedent, so that the enhancement is legally correct for an independent reason.
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