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  • Writer's pictureWarren & Burstein

Warren & Burstein win in the Ninth Circuit: life sentence vacated.

In United States v. Graves, --- F.3d ---, No. 16-50276 (9th Cir. 2019), the Court vacated the our client's life sentence.

In this drug prosecution, the government filed a double 851-enhancement, such that the mandatory minimum was life.

On appeal, the argument centered on whether one of the alleged predicate convictions, for inmate drug possession under California Penal Code § 4573.6 (2007), qualified as a triggering “felony drug offense.”

The Ninth agreed that like other California drug statutes section 4573.6 was overbroad. And it further agreed with us that unlike other drug statutes it was not divisible. Thus, it could not qualify as a predicate for federal sentencing purposes.

Finally, although the district court indicated it would impose a life sentence even if one were not mandated, the Court agreed the error was not harmless, vacated the sentence, and remanded.

Watch the oral argument beginning at 41:35

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