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U.S. v. APLICANO-OYELA, NO. 14-4244


Decided: July 7, 2015

The district court sentenced Gerson Arturo Aplicano-Oyuela (“Aplicano”) to sixteen months in prison and three years of supervised release for an illegal reentry offense that followed his removal from the United States after a felony conviction. Aplicano appealed and challenged his term of supervised release. The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s sentencing.

In 2002, Aplicano illegally entered the United States from Honduras. In 2006, he plead guilty to second-degree assault in Maryland. Following his assault charge, Aplicano was removed to Honduras. Aplicano proceeded to once more illegally reenter the United States. After several arrest, Aplicano was indicted in 2013 and charged with illegal reentry under 8 U.S.C. § 1326. Aplicano submitted a plea letter to the district court and acknowledged the maximum sentence of illegal reentry, including supervised release for a period of three years. The district court sentenced Aplicano to sixteen months in prison and three years of supervised release. The court found the supervised release to be appropriate because of Aplicano’s history of illegal reentry and the court wanted to ensure that if Aplicano attempted to illegally reenter the United States, he would receive longer jail time.

Aplicano challenged his three-year term of supervised release on the grounds that it was procedurally and substantively unreasonable, and that his guilty plea was not knowingly and voluntarily entered because the court failed to advise him of the nature and consequences of supervised release. The Fourth Circuit addressed each of Aplicano’s challenges and reviewed the district court’s sentencing for plain error.

Accordingly, the Court found that there was no plain error by the district court in regards to the procedural reasonableness of the sentence because the district court was aware of the guidelines to supervised release, considered Aplicano’s specific circumstances, and determined that additional deterrence was required in this circumstance. Next, the Court addressed the substantive reasonableness of the supervised release. Taking into account the totality of the circumstances, the Court found the trial court’s intention to provide deterrence and protect the community to be substantively reasonable. Therefore, the Court found no error. Finally, the Court assessed whether the trial court failed to explain the nature and consequences of supervised release to Aplicano, in violation of Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. The Court did not rule on whether a violation occurred, but instead held that the record failed to show that Aplicano would have refrained from pleading guilty but for the assumed Rule 11 error. As a result, Aplicano was unable to satisfy the third prong of the plain error analysis, that the error affected his substantial rights.

Consequently, the Court affirmed the district court’s sentence of Aplicano to sixteen months in prison and three years of supervised release.

Full Opinion

Meredith Weisler