Supremes to Decide Standard for Courts to Fix Plain Errors

(CN) – The nation’s highest court agreed Thursday to take up a case in which an undocumented immigrant claims his sentence for illegally entering the U.S. is too long and based on a mathematical error.

Florencio Rosales-Mireles pleaded guilty to illegal reentry into the United States. He was sentenced to 78 months in prison and three years of probation, based on a criminal-history score that counted his 2009 misdemeanor assault conviction twice.

Rosales-Mireles challenged the double-counting in his sentencing calculation on appeal.

In March, the Fifth Circuit affirmed his sentence, finding that it still would have fallen within the applicable sentencing guideline even if his Texas assault conviction was not counted twice.

The New Orleans-based appeals court applied the plain-error standard to Rosales-Mireles’ argument because he did not raise the issue in the district court.

“There is no discrepancy between the sentence and the correctly calculated range,” Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the Fifth Circuit panel. “The court sentenced Rosales-Mireles to 78 months, which is in the middle of the proper range of 70–87 months. We cannot say that the error or resulting sentence would shock the conscience.”

Rosales-Mireles appealed in June to the U.S. Supreme Court, which agreed Thursday to decide the standard for a federal appears court to correct a plain error.

The high court did not comment on its decision to grant Rosales-Mireles’ petition for review.

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