Note: Breaking Bad Sentencing Habits: How State Courts’ Retroactive Modifications of Probation Terms Affect Federal Mandatory Sentencing

Andrew Tan
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86 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1079

In 2006, Eduardo Alba-Flores was arrested for importing methamphetamine into the country from Mexico. Importing methamphetamine carries a ten-year minimum sentence, but first-time offenders who meet certain conditions are exempt from this mandatory minimum. Unfortunately, Alba-Flores was ineligible because he was on probation at the time for driving with a suspended license earlier that year. Alba-Flores convinced the state court to retroactively modify his probation term so that he served less than a year of it, hoping that this would make him eligible for an exemption from the mandatory ten-year sentence his drug crime carried. In 2009, the Ninth Circuit held that, because he was in fact on probation when he committed the federal drug crime, the state’s retroactive change did not affect his mandatory minimum sentence eligibility. As of the time this article was written, Alba-Flores is still serving his ten-year sentence. [MORE]