Published on: Monday, May 23, 2022

Man in Puerto Rico charged with machine-gun-possession pleads guilty with an advisory prison range of 24 to 30 months. At sentencing, man request 24 months. Prosecutor requests 30 months. District court: Convinced that neither party's suggested sentence "reflects the seriousness of the offense, promotes respect for the law, protects the public from further crimes" imposed a prison sentence of 48 months — 18 months more than the top of the recommended sentencing range. First Circuit: Not so. Federal court's habit of varying upwards in machine-gun-possession cases based on a sense that machine-gun-related crime is a bigger problem on the island or other generic "community characteristics" cannot be the exclusive basis for varying upwards from the guidelines. Sentence vacated and case remanded for resentencing within 24 to 30 months.

The case is United States v. Emiliano Emmanuel Flores-Gonzalez, No. 19-2204 (1st Cir. May 16, 2022).