United States Court of Appeals
OCT 11 2001
UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, No. 01-4040
(D.C. No. 00-CR-370-C)
Plaintiff-Appellee, (D. Utah)
JOSE LUIS CHAVEZ-VARGAS,
ORDER AND JUDGMENT(1)
Before EBEL, KELLY, and LUCERO, Circuit Judges.
Jose Chavez-Vargas was convicted of illegal reentry following deportation
in violation of 8 U.S.C. .1326(a). A conviction on this charge typically carries a
maximum sentence of two years. However, when the reason for the original
deportation was the commission of an aggravated felony, the maximum sentence
is raised to twenty years. See 8 U.S.C. .1326 (b).
(1) After examining the briefs and appellate record, this panel has determined
unanimously to grant the parties' request for a decision on the briefs without oral
argument. See Fed. R. App. P. 34(f) and 10th Cir. R. 34.1(G). The case is
therefore ordered submitted without oral argument. This Order and Judgment is
not binding precedent, except under the doctrines of law of the case, res judicata,
and collateral estoppel. The court generally disfavors the citation of orders and
judgments; nevertheless, an order and judgment may be cited under the terms and
conditions of 10th Cir. R. 36.3.
In this case, the district court found that the defendant had originally been
deported because of an aggravated felony conviction. This prior felony
conviction was not alleged in the indictment but it triggered a sixteen level
enhancement under the United States Sentencing Guidelines ("USSG"). The
district court granted the defendant a two-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility pursuant to .3E1.1 (a) of the USSG.
The defendant raises two issues on appeal. First, he contends that the
district court erred in denying him an additional one-level reduction for
acceptance of responsibility without making findings as to whether he provided
timely and complete information to the government concerning his involvement in
the offense. Second, he argues that the district court erred when it sentenced him
to a term of imprisonment beyond the maximum penalty for his conviction, based
on a prior felony conviction which was not a part of his indictment. We remand
with respect to the first issue and affirm with respect to the second.
A defendant who has received a two-level reduction for acceptance of
responsibility may be entitled to an additional one-level reduction for " timely
providing complete information to the government concerning his own
involvement in the offense." See USSG .3E1.1(b)(1).
In this case, it is clear that the district court made no finding as to whether
this prong was satisfied, and the government concedes that the failure to do so
was error. The district court denied the additional point, which it deemed "super
acceptance," because the defendant "did put the government to the burden of
proof." (Vol. II, 13). The district court's reluctant decision to grant the two-level
reduction in the first instance is not dispositive of whether an additional point is
available under the timely provision of information prong of 3E1.1(b). See
United States v. Ortiz, 63 F.3d 952, 956 (10th Cir. 1995) (noting that the two
prongs of 3E1.1(b) are disjunctive, therefore commencement of a trial only affects
3E1.1(b)(2), and remanding for findings of whether 3E1.1(b)(1) was satisfied).
Therefore, we remand to the district court to make findings of whether the
defendant is eligible for an additional one-level reduction.
The defendant also argues that his prior conviction is an element of the
offense, which under Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000), must be
charged in the indictment, presented to the jury, and found beyond a reasonable
doubt. We disagree.
In a factually identical case to this one with respect to this issue, this court
explicitly held that failure of an indictment to charge a defendant separately with
a prior aggravated felony conviction does not violate Apprendi. See United States
v. Martinez-Villalva, 232 F.3d 1329, 1332 (10th Cir. 2000). In Martinez-Villalva,
we found that the holding of Apprendi carved out an exception for prior felony
convictions, and thus preserved the Court's prior holding in Almendarez-Torres v.
United States, 523 U.S. 224 (1998), that a prior felony conviction was a
sentencing factor, rather than an element of the offense. See Martinez-Villalva,
232 F.3d at 1331. Like Martinez-Villalva, this case "falls squarely within the
exception to the Apprendi holding and is governed by Almendarez-Torres." Id. at
Therefore, we REMAND in part to the district court to make findings of
whether the defendant is eligible for an additional one-level reduction under
3E1.1(b)(1) and AFFIRM with respect to the district court's consideration at
sentencing of defendant's prior felony conviction.
ENTERED FOR THE COURT
David M. Ebel
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