Sentencing hearing is very important in a criminal case. Having a good attorney helps! Object to PSR

SCUDDER, Circuit Judge. Police seized 143.7 kilograms of marijuana from Joel Helding’s car and apartment, and he pleaded guilty to possessing over 100 kilograms. But at sentencing, the district court held him responsible for the equivalent of 4,679.7 kilograms—over 32 times the amount seized. The additional quantity was based solely on the Presentence Investigation Report’s account that confidential informants told law enforcement Helding was dealing significant quantities of methamphetamine during the relevant period. The drug quantity determination had a sizeable effect on Helding’s advisory guidelines range, and it drove his ultimate sentence of 18 years’ imprisonment.

A sentencing court acts within its discretion when it credits confidential informants’ statements about drug quantity, but when a defendant objects, the evidence supporting that quantity must be found to be reliable. While that step may prove modest, it needs to be taken, lest a defendant face the risk of being sentenced on the basis of unreliable information. The statements here, without more, fell short of that threshold. So we reverse and remand for resentencing.

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Anton Vialtsin, Esq.
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