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United States v. Pina-Regalado

filed*fn*: January 13, 1994.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JESUS PINA-REGALADO, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. D.C. No. CR-92-790-01-LCN. Leland C. Nielsen, District Judge, Presiding

Before: Reinhardt, O'scannlain, and Kleinfeld, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM

Jesus Pina-Regalado appeals his 21-month sentence imposed following his guilty plea to importation of marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 952. Despite a negotiated plea agreement which expressly waived his right to appeal all sentencing issues, Pina-Regalado argues that the government breached the plea agreement by opposing downward adjustments for acceptance of responsibility and being a minimal participant. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm. n.1 [footnote omitted]

"Although a defendant's waiver of his right to appeal is generally enforceable, we have considered a defendant's claims that he was sentenced in violation of a negotiated plea agreement." United states v. Torres, 999 F.2d 376, 378 (9th Cir. 1993) (per curiam) (citation omitted). "To determine whether a sentence complies with the terms of a plea agreement, we look to what was reasonably understood by the defendant when he entered his plea." United States v. Fernandez, 960 F.2d 771, 772 (9th Cir. 1991) (per curiam); accord United States v. Gerace, 997 F.2d 1293, 1294 (9th Cir. 1993).

Here, pursuant to a written plea agreement, Pina-Regalado agreed to plead guilty to the current offense. In exchange, the government agreed, among other things, to the following provisions:

(c) The Government will not oppose a reduction for acceptance of responsibility of up to three levels, if so found by either the U.S. Probation Office or the Court.

(d) The defendant will argue for a 4-level reduction for his minimal role in the offense. Should the defense counsel lay a factual basis for such a role adjustment, the Government will not oppose such application.

At sentencing, defense counsel argued for a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and four-level reduction for minial role. In response, the government stated "[y]our honor, the plea agreement actually states that we would not oppose a reduction of three levels if found by [the] probation [officer] or the court. Probation has found two levels."

Regarding the minial role reduction, the prosecutor stated:

[t]he plea agreement specifically states that should the court find the facts warrants [sic] such role reduction, the government will not oppose it. So the government will defer to the court to determine whether or not a four-level -- whether or not . . . [defense counsel] has laid a factual basis for a four-level reduction.

The district court only granted a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and two-level reduction for minor role. In response to Pina-Regalado's claim that the government breached the agreement, the court stated "I don't find that . . . [the government] failed to comply with the plea agreement."

On appeal, Pina-Regalado contends the government breached the plea agreement by (1) stating that the probation officer only recommended a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility and (2) failing to state that it had no objection to a four-level reduction for minimal role after defense counsel laid a factual basis. We disagree. The government's mere recitation of the relevant portions of the agreement did not constitute opposition to the requested adjustments. To the exent Pina-Regalado understood the agreement as requiring the government to affirmatively recommend the adjustments, we conclude that such an understainding was reasonable. See, e.g., Gerace, 997 F.2d at 1294-95 (government's opposition against leniency at probation revocation hearing did not breach government's promise in plea agreemt to remain silent at sentencing where the express terms of agreement did not cover future proceedings). Because the government did not breach the plea agreement, we enforce Pina-Regalado's waiver of the right to appeal his sentence. See Torres, 999 F.2d at 378.

AFFIRMED.

Disposit ...


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