The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Saiz on Tuesday, August 18, 2015.
Gabriel Saiz pleaded guilty to burglary, battery, and larceny in New Mexico state court in 2011. At sentencing the court entered a conditional discharge order, under which Saiz was placed on probation but not convicted of the crimes. Upon completion of the probationary period the guilty plea would be eradicated and there would be no conviction. During the probationary period, Saiz was convicted on two federal charges of unlawful firearm possession. He pleaded guilty. The district court applied a sentence enhancement due to Saiz’s status as a “prohibited person,” meaning “any person under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.” The district court added two sentence enhancements and one reduction for acceptance of responsibility, resulting in a Guidelines range of 70 to 87 months’ imprisonment. Without the enhancements, the Guidelines range would have been 57 to 71 months. The district court varied downward and sentenced Saiz to 60 months’ imprisonment.
Saiz appealed, arguing the conditional discharge did not count as an indictment for purposes of the sentence enhancement. The Tenth Circuit disagreed, reasoning that because the charges in the indictment remain suspended during the period of probation, and because the court retains jurisdiction during the pendency of the probation, the indictment is still in effect during the probationary period. Persons under conditional discharge are neither adjudicated guilty nor convicted, and does not dispose a case to the fullest extent possible.
The district court’s sentence was affirmed.