United States v. Godinez, No. 19-1215 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Godinez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1) and 846, and to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(i). The prosecution notified the court under 21 U.S.C. 851 that Godinez had a prior Ohio conviction for possession of cocaine. The district court determined that this prior state conviction made Godinez eligible for a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment rather than the otherwise applicable five-year mandatory minimum.
The Seventh Circuit vacated the Sentence, citing the First Step Act of 2018, 132 Stat. 5194 enacted after the signing of Godinez’s plea agreement but before his sentencing. By failing to recognize the changes implemented by the Act, including the heightened thresholds that must be met for a court to impose increased mandatory minimums for certain drug offenses, the district court premised its sentencing calculations on a mandatory minimum that was twice what it should have been. The oversight constitutes plain error and requires resentencing.