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United States v. Mendoza-Padilla

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

August 16, 2016

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
Carlos Ricardo Mendoza-Padilla, AKA Carlos Mendoza, AKA Carlos Mendoza-Padilla, Defendant-Appellant.

          Argued and Submitted June 15, 2016 San Francisco, California

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, D.C. No. 4:14-cr-01336-JGZ-BGM-1 Jennifer G. Zipps, District Judge, Presiding

          Hariette P. Levitt, Tucson, Arizona, for Defendant-Appellant.

          Rosaleen O'Gara (argued), Assistant United States Attorney; Robert L. Miskell, Appellate Chief; John S. Leonardo, United States Attorney; United States Attorney's Office, Tucson, Arizona; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

          Before: Richard C. Tallman, Richard R. Clifton, and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges.

         SUMMARY[*]

         Criminal Law

         Vacating a sentence and remanding for resentencing, the panel held that manslaughter, as defined by Florida Statute § 782.07, does not constitute a crime of violence under U.S.S.G. § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) because Florida manslaughter by act, which does not require a mens rea of at least recklessness, criminalizes conduct that goes beyond the contemporary generic definition of manslaughter.

          OPINION

          TALLMAN, CIRCUIT JUDGE

         Carlos Mendoza-Padilla pled guilty to one count of illegal re-entry after deportation. The district court applied a 16-level increase to Mendoza-Padilla's base offense level based on his prior manslaughter conviction under Florida law. We now consider in light of United States Supreme Court guidance whether manslaughter, as defined by Florida Statute § 782.07, constitutes a crime of violence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A). We hold that it does not. Accordingly, we vacate Mendoza-Padilla's sentence and remand for resentencing.

         I

         Carlos Mendoza-Padilla came to the United States as a teenager in 1998. In 2003, he was convicted of manslaughter under Florida Statute § 782.07. Mendoza-Padilla was deported and re-entered the United States several times. In 2014, Mendoza-Padilla pled guilty without a plea agreement to one count of illegal re-entry after deportation, in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326. The probation officer calculated the base offense level as 8 under the United States Sentencing Guidelines § 2L1.2(a) and increased the base level by 16 under § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A) because he understandably believed that Mendoza-Padilla's Florida manslaughter conviction was a "crime of violence." After an acceptance of responsibility adjustment, the final offense level was 21.

         Mendoza-Padilla objected to the 16-level increase in the Presentence Report on the ground that manslaughter under Florida law, as interpreted by the Florida courts, was not a "crime of violence" under federal sentencing law. At sentencing, the district judge agreed with the probation officer, overruled Mendoza-Padilla's objection, and sentenced him to 57 months in prison. Mendoza-Padilla timely appealed.

         II

         Mendoza-Padilla asserts that the application of the 16-level enhancement was improper because Florida manslaughter requires a mens rea only of negligence, which does not meet the generic definition of the crime. We review de novo the district court's decision. United States v. Velasquez-Reyes, 427 F.3d 1227, 1229 (9th Cir. 2005).

         A

         Section 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii) permits a sentencing court to increase a defendant's offense level by sixteen levels if "the defendant previously was deported . . . after . . . a crime of violence." The Application Notes to § 2L1.2(b)(1)(A)(ii) list a number of specifically enumerated offenses ...


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