New York Federal Criminal Practice Blog
October 19, 2007

EDNY Judge Imposes Sentence Substantially Below Guidelines in Illegal Re-Entry Case

A defendant convicted of illegal re-entry and use of false identification got a reprieve from the draconian applicable Sentencing Guidelines last week in United States v. Jiminez, 2007 WL 3010625 (E.D.N.Y. October 11, 2007), when Judge Weinstein imposed a non-Guidelines sentence of 34 months instead of a Guidelines sentence of between 81 and 95 months.  Emphasizing that he was not granting a downward departure but a sentence under 18 USC §3553(a), the judge highlighted the fact that the defendant was "a hard working person," "well devoted to his family," who committed the crimes "because of his close emotional and economic relationship with his family," and in particular, because of the "serious separation problems" suffered by his son.  A longer sentence, would, the court held, "create serious emotional difficulties for the family."  Notably, none of these reasons would have justified a downward departure under the pre-Booker framework (Booker being the Supreme Court case that rendered the Sentencing Guidelines advisory).

The judge also noted that his sentence, albeit more than 50% below the advisory guideline, satisfied the needs of specific and general deterrence because it incapacited the defendant through incarceration and sent a message to the world that the defendant would be in prison for a "substantial" period of time. 

The case illustrates how Booker has empowered judges to temper the harshness of the Guidelines in individual cases in a way that the traditional and restrictive downward departure framework did not.

See Archives for all posts since September 2007.