MELENDEZ v. UNITED STATES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-5661
Petitioner 
Melendez
Respondent 
United States
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
Tags
Term:
Facts of the Case 

After purchasing cocaine, Juan Melendez was charged with violating federal drug laws. The law carried a minimum sentence of ten years imprisonment. Melendez signed a plea agreement stating he would be cooperative. In turn the government agreed to give him a short sentence. The District Court thus sentenced Melendez to ten years in prison, the mandatory minimum. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Question 

Does a federal prosecutor's plea agreement that a cooperating defendant be given the minimum sentence authorize a judge to depart below a statutory minimum?

Conclusion 
Decision: 7 votes for United States, 2 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 18 U.S.C. 3553

No. In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the Court held that, in the absence of a Government motion requesting or authorizing the district court to "impose a sentence below a level established by statute as minimum sentence," a prison sentence must not violate the statutory sentencing minimum.

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MELENDEZ v. UNITED STATES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 October 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_5661>.
MELENDEZ v. UNITED STATES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_5661 (last visited October 20, 2014).
"MELENDEZ v. UNITED STATES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed October 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1995/1995_95_5661.