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Court Vacates Term of Supervised Release

In a short summary order in United States v. Breton, the Court (Winter, Jacobs, Cabranes) vacated a term of supervised release because the district court had improperly calculated the advisory Guidelines range.  Defendant Raddy Breton pleaded guilty to attempted possession of methylone with intent to distribute.  Pursuant to U.S.S.G. § 5D1.2(a) and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(f), which limits the applicability of statutory minimums in certain cases, Breton faced an advisory Guidelines range of one to three years of supervised release.  During sentencing, the district court calculated the applicable supervised release range as three years to life.  Both parties submitted that the miscalculation constituted plain error.

The Second Circuit agreed that this was error and reiterated that defendants need only show an improperly calculated Guidelines range—for a term of imprisonment or a term of supervised release—to establish procedural error on appeal.  The Second Circuit vacated only the supervised release portion of Breton’s sentence and noted that, on remand, the district court might again elect to impose an above-Guidelines term of five years of supervised release.  Finally, the Court rejected Breton’s argument, made separately in a pro se submission, that his plea was not knowing and voluntary because he was unaware that the district court would calculate his sentencing range using a 500:1 methylone-to-marijuana ratio because no promise was made to Breton regarding the applicable drug ratio. 

-By Susan Millenky and Harry Sandick