USA v. Calderon-Asevedo, Juan

Filing 17

Opinion

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NONPRECEDENTIAL DISPOSITION To be cited only in accordance with Fed. R. App. P. 32.1 United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit Chicago, Illinois 60604 Argued June 11, 2008 Decided August 13, 2008 Before DANIEL A. MANION, Circuit Judge ILANA DIAMOND ROVNER, Circuit Judge JOHN DANIEL TINDER, Circuit Judge No. 073145 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PlaintiffAppellee, v. No. 07CR29901 JUAN CARLOS CALDERON ASEVEDO, DefendantAppellant. Suzanne B. Conlon, Judge. O R D E R Juan Carlos CalderonAsevedo pleaded guilty without a plea agreement to one count of illegally reentering the United States after being deported. He was sentenced to 46 months' imprisonment based, in part, on the district court's belief that his previous conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm constituted a crime of violence. On appeal, CalderonAsevedo contends that it does not meet the definition of a crime of violence. We reserve ruling on this issue, which we find to be a close question, and we affirm Calderon Asevedo's sentence on the basis of the district court's alternative reasoning that the higher sentence was warranted by his persistent history of criminal conduct. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division No. 073145 Page 2 CalderonAsevedo is a Mexican citizen who came to the United States in 1983 with his parents when he was two years old and continued to live here until adulthood. In April 2000 he pleaded guilty to aggravated discharge of a firearm and other offenses and was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment.1 See 720 ILCS 5/241.2(a)(1). The government removed CalderonAsevedo from the United States in April 2003 after he served part of his sentence and told him that he could not reenter the country without permission. In May 2007 he was found at his father's house in Illinois and charged with illegally reentering the country after having been deported. See 8 U.S.C. 1326(a); 6 U.S.C. 202(4). CalderonAsevedo pleaded guilty to the onecount indictment. His PSR set his base offense level at 8. See U.S.S.G. 2L1.2. The PSR included a 16level increase because it viewed CalderonAsevedo's previous conviction for aggravated discharge of a firearm as a felony crime of violence. See id. 2L1.2(b)(1)(A). The application notes define "crime of violence" as any of the following: murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, aggravated assault, forcible sex offenses, statutory rape, sexual abuse of a minor, robbery, arson, extortion, extortionate extension of credit, burglary of a dwelling, or any offense under federal, state, or local law that has as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another. Id. 2L1.2 cmt. n.1(B)(iii). According to the PSR, the indictment for that offense alleged that in October 1999 CalderonAsevedo knowingly fired a gun at a building that he knew to be occupied. The government provided further factual background at CalderonAsevedo's sentencing hearing, explaining that CalderonAsevedo and his codefendent Miguel GuerreroSalinas drove to the house of a rival gang member and fired at the window of the home, where an infant and toddler were sleeping. The PSR also included a threelevel downward adjustment for acceptance of responsibility. The PSR calculated a criminal history category of III and an advisory sentencing range of 46 to 57 months. CalderonAsevedo objected to the PSR, arguing that his previous conviction should not be counted as a crime of violence under the sentencing guidelines. CalderonAsevedo contended that his prior offense did not include as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, which is required by the 1 The Illinois statute which CalderonAsevedo pleaded guilty to violating states that "[a] person commits aggravated discharge of a firearm when he or she knowingly or intentionally: discharges a firearm at or into a building he or she knows or reasonably should know to be occupied and the firearm is discharged from a place or position outside that building." 720 ILCS 5/241.2(a)(1). No. 073145 Page 3 definition in the guidelines. See U.S.S.G. 2L1.2 cmt. n.1(B)(iii). Instead, CalderonAsevedo suggested, his prior conviction should result in only an eightlevel increase based on being an aggravated felony. See id. 2L1.2(b)(1)(C). CalderonAsevedo noted that Guerrero Salinas, who was charged alongside him for the same Illinois offense, had not been subjected to the "crime of violence" increase at his own sentencing for unlawful reenty.2 CalderonAsevedo also argued that because he was culturally assimilated to the U.S. after many years of living here and has a U.S.citizen wife and two children still living here, he should be found less culpable than the sentencing guidelines recommended. The district court first acknowledged that the question of whether CalderonAsevedo committed a crime of violence did not have a "clear cut" answer. The court continued, however, that the crime of firing at a building, knowing it was occupied, appeared "on its face" to be a crime of violence. In the alternative, the district court concluded that, even without the crimeofviolence enhancement, it would impose the same sentence based on the factors described in 3553(a). The court opined that CalderonAsevedo had an "extremely dangerous nature," as evidenced by the circumstances of his prior offense, endangering an infant and toddler in their home. This type of behavior made Calderon Asevedo highly dangerous to both the public and to specific individuals, including the families of rival gang members, according to the court. The court acknowledged that CalderonAsevedo had a loving, devoted family, but also stated its "great concern" that his criminal activities began when he was "very, very young," as a Latin Kings gang member, and that he had no verifiable employment history and a long criminal record including batteries and assaults. The court expressed its concern about protecting the public and also teaching CalderonAsevedo respect for the law. The court then sentenced Calderon Asevedo at the bottom of the advisory guidelines range. On appeal CalderonAsevedo renews his challenge to the district court's conclusion that his aggravated discharge of a firearm constituted a crime of violence. We find this to be a close question, and, because the district court's alternative holding presents an insurmountable obstacle for CalderonAsevedo, we withhold ruling on the crime of 2 Neither the government nor GuerreroSalinas appealed in his case. No. 073145 violence issue.3 We are satisfied that the alternative holding provides a solid basis for Page 4 CalderonAsevedo presents a novel challenge; we have never considered whether the offense of which he was convicted meets the crime of violence definition given in 2L1.2. We have observed that "crime of violence" is defined "more narrowly in 2L1.2 than in other contexts because the definition does not encompass acts involving the use of force against property or acts that merely pose a risk of harm to another person." United States v. JaimesJaimes, 406 F.3d 845, 849 (7th Cir. 2005). Because aggravated discharge of a firearm is not among the offenses listed in 2L1.2, Calderon Asevedo asks us to consider whether it meets the "use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another" element requirement of that guideline, a question we have not previously answered. We have adopted the "charge offense approach to classifying prior offenses," meaning that we focus on the statutory definition of the crime, and not the specific facts of the offense. See United States v. FrancoFernandez, 511 F.3d 768, 770 (7th Cir. 2008); JaimesJaimes, 406 F.3d at 850. CalderonAsevedo's indictment specified that he fired the gun knowing that the building he fired at was occupied, a fact that we do consider. See Shepard v. United States, 544 U.S. 13, 26 (2005); United States v. Rice, 520 F.3d 811, 820821 (7th Cir. 2008). We have extensively analyzed the definition of "crime of violence" in various contexts, but none of our other cases controls this case. One case considered whether the same Illinois offense as here constituted a crime of violence under the immigration statute. See 18 U.S.C. 16; QuezadaLuna v. Gonzalez, 439 F.3d 403 (7th Cir. 2005). What QuezadaLuna did not clarify, however, was whether the physical force required in the Illinois statute involved the use of physical force against a person, as required by 2L1.2, or only against property, as permitted by 16(a). On another occasion we considered whether a firearmsdischarge violation under a different subsection of 5/241.2 was a crime of violence. Rice, 520 F.3d 811. But the reasoning suggests that Rice's offense met only the definition of 4B1.2(a)(2) (requiring only "a serious potential risk of physical injury to another"). Id. at 821. We did not hold in Rice that aggravated discharge of a firearm has as an element the use of "physical force against the person of another," as required by 2L1.2. The case CalderonAsevedo principally relies upon, JaimesJaimes, similarly leaves the critical question in this case unanswered. In JaimesJaimes, we considered whether the defendant's conviction in Wisconsin for "discharging a firearm into a vehicle or building" constituted a crime of violence under 2L1.2. It did not because under Wisconsin law the state did not have to prove "that another person was present in the vehicle or building, or even anywhere near the targeted object." 406 F.3d at 850. In CalderonAsevedo's case, the statute and, even more explicitly, the indictment specify that Calderon Asevedo knew that a person was present during the shooting, so JaimesJaimes is distinguishable. Case law from other circuits bears on this question. In United States v. Alfaro, 408 F.3d 204 (5th Cir. 2005), the Fifth Circuit held that the Virginia offense of shooting into an occupied dwelling did not constitute a crime of violence because "a defendant could violate this statute merely by shooting a gun at a building that happens to be occupied without actually shooting, attempting to shoot, or threatening to shoot another person," and therefore the offense did not have as an element the use of force against another person. Id. at 209. The Ninth Circuit, interpreting a California law that is similar to Illinois's in this case, also concluded that the firearmdischarge offense does not necessarily constitute a crime of violence under 2L1.2, noting that the "reckless act needs only be directed toward the dwelling or building," not at the life or safety of others. United States v. NarvaezGomez, 489 F.3d 970, 977 (9th Cir. 2007). We leave the resolution of this issue for another day; in this case, the district court's alternative 3 (continued...) No. 073145 affirming this sentence. Page 5 The district court held that it would impose the 16level increase as a matter of its sentencing discretion, even if the crimeofviolence categorization did not apply. Calderon Asevedo argues that sentence is unreasonable because it amounts to a 91% upward variance. If the 16level increase is replaced with the eightlevel increase that Calderon Asevedo thinks is warranted, his advisory sentencing range would be only 18 to 24 months' imprisonment, significantly lower than the 46month sentence he received. We review sentences for reasonableness, see United States v. Tahzib, 513 F.3d 692, 69495 (7th Cir. 2008). Two recent Supreme Court cases on sentencing, Kimbrough v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 558 (2007), and Gall v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 586 (2007), together affirm that district courts have wide discretion in sentencing and that Courts of Appeals should not upset sentences that are supported by sound reasoning anchored to 18 U.S.C. 3553(a). Kimbrough repeats that judges must consider the applicable guidelines range but only as one of an "array of factors." 128 S. Ct. at 564. Gall emphasizes the importance of the 3553(a) factors. Id. at 59697. Gall also cautioned against the kind of "proportional" criticism that CalderonAsevedo advances, emphasizing that "the abuseofdiscretion standard of review applies to appellate review of all sentencing decisions--whether inside or outside the Guidelines range." Id. at 596. The district court concluded that, apart from a crimeofviolence enhancement, CalderonAsevedo's personal history warranted a 46month sentence. Echoing 3553(a) and following United States v. Cunningham, 429 F.3d 673 (7th Cir. 2005), the court discussed CalderonAsevedo's "history and characteristics" and found that he had a "dangerous nature" with a history of gang involvement and physical attacks on others and virtually no employment record. See 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(1). The court also considered the need to protect the public from further unlawfulness and to deter CalderonAsevedo. See id. 3553(a)(2). This discussion indicates that the district court fulfilled its duties under United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005), and made a sentencing determination informed by the particular factors at issue in CalderonAsevedo's case. AFFIRMED. 3 holding is clearly dispositive. (...continued)

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