December 11, 2018

Tenth Circuit: Rebuttable Presumption of Reasonableness to a Below-Guideline Sentence Challenged as Unreasonably Harsh

The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in United States v. Balbin-Mesa on Wednesday, June 29, 2011.

The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s sentence. Petitioner, a citizen of Colombia, appeals from the below-guideline sentence imposed upon him after pleading guilty, without a plea agreement, to a charge of reentering the United States after having been removed. Petitioner did not specify whether he intended to raise a procedural or a substantive challenge to his sentence.

The Court, after reviewing Petitioner’s briefs, determined an intent to challenge only the substantive reasonableness of his sentence. Petitioner “argues that the district court’s below-guideline, twenty-eight month sentence was unreasonable because the court made only a passing reference to a single sentencing factor, deterrence, to the exclusion of other sentencing factors listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).” However, the Court agreed with and joined “the Seventh Circuit in extending the rebuttable presumption of reasonableness to a below-guideline sentence challenged by the defendant as unreasonably harsh. [Petitioner]’s cursory review of the sentencing factors fails to rebut the presumption that his below-guideline sentence is reasonable.”

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