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Ninth Circuit: Federal Supervised Release Constitutional

On April 24, 2006, a panel of judges in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court?s finding that supervised release was a valid part of the federal sentencing scheme.

Lazaro Huerta-Pimental was arrested in 1998 for illegally entering the U.S. in violation of 8 U.S.C. § 1326(a) and (b)(2). He pleaded guilty and was sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California to 63 months in prison and 3 years of supervised release.
After serving his prison sentence Huerta-Pimental was deported to Mexico.
Approximately five months later, in April 2003, Huerta-Pimental was again arrested for attempted illegal entry, this time in Texas, and was sentenced to 70 months in prison.

A probation officer in the Southern District of California subsequently moved to revoke Huerta-Pimental?s probation and three months later he was brought before the same judge who had sentenced him in 1998. Relying on Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) and Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296, 124 S.Ct. 1493 (2004), Huerta-Pimental argued that his supervised release was unconstitutional because it was not specifically authorized by § 1326; therefore, the court lacked jurisdiction to revoke it. The court disagreed and sentenced him to an additional 24 months in prison. Huerta-Pimental appealed.

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court, holding:

1) Because ?[s]upervised release, its revocation, and associated penalties are part of the original sentence? and do not require impermissible judicial fact-finding, supervised release is valid under Apprendi and Blakely.

2) Because the revocation of supervised release and the imposition of additional imprisonment is fully discretionary, it is constitutional under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

See: United States v. Huerta-Pimental, 445 F.3d 1220 (9th Cir. 2006).

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Related legal case

United States v. Huerta-Pimental