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Criminal Sentencing Decision

United States v. Rodriquez, 553 U.S. 377 (2008)

The Court examined whether a state drug-trafficking offense, for which state law authorizes a ten-year sentence because the defendant was a recidivist, qualifies as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e). In a 6-3 decision, the Court concluded that it does. The decision is available on the Supreme Court’s website.

The Court’s decision reversed a Ninth Circuit decision. In the underlying case, the Ninth Circuit had applied its precedent United States v. Corona-Sanchez, 291 F.3d 1201 (9th Cir. 2002) (en banc). In Corona-Sanchez, the court found that a petty theft conviction could not qualify as an aggravated felony because the maximum possible sentence for a violation without statutory recidivist enhancements was six months.