United States v. Sanchez-Villarreal, No. 15-41303 (5th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
Even in light of Amendment 794's clarifying guidance to USSG 3B1.2, it is proper for a sentencing court to consider the "critical" or "essential" nature of a defendant's role when assessing application of section 3B1.2. However, a sentencing court may not deny the adjustment on this ground alone. In this case, defendant appealed his 155 month sentence after pleading guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine. The district court's explanation at sentencing for its denial of the mitigating-role reduction strongly suggested that the district court made outcome determinative its finding that defendant's role was "critical." Furthermore, this error pretermitted the district court's application of section 3B1.1 and the applicable commentary. Accordingly, the Fifth Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing.