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United States of America v. Jose Villanueva Miranda
Case Number: 21-4125
Judge: PER CURIAM:
Before GREGORY, Chief Judge, FLOYD, and RUSHING, Circuit Judges
Court: UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT
Plaintiff's Attorney: G. Norman Acker, III, Acting United States Attorney, Jennifer P. MayParker, Assistant United States Attorney, David A. Bragdon, Assistant United States
Attorney, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY
Richmond, VA - Criminal defense lawyer represented defendant with a interstate and foreign transportation in aid of racketeering charge.
With respect to Miranda’s plea, a guilty plea is valid if the defendant voluntarily,
knowingly, and intelligently pleads guilty “with sufficient awareness of the relevant
circumstances and likely consequences.” United States v. Fisher, 711 F.3d 460, 464 (4th
Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted). “In evaluating the constitutional validity of
a guilty plea, courts look to the totality of the circumstances surrounding it, granting the
defendant’s solemn declaration of guilt a presumption of truthfulness.” United States v.
Moussaoui, 591 F.3d 263, 278 (4th Cir. 2010) (brackets and internal quotation marks
omitted). Before accepting a guilty plea, the district court must conduct a plea colloquy in
which it informs the defendant of, and determines he understands, the rights he is
relinquishing by pleading guilty, the charge to which he is pleading, and the maximum
* Counsel also questions the validity of the appellate waiver provision contained in
the plea agreement. Because the Government has declined to enforce the waiver, we may
consider the issues raised by counsel and conduct an independent review of the record
pursuant to Anders. See United States v. Poindexter, 492 F.3d 263, 271 (4th Cir. 2007).
and mandatory minimum penalties he faces. Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(1); United States v.
DeFusco, 949 F.2d 114, 116 (4th Cir. 1991). The district court also must ensure that the
plea was voluntary and not the result of threats, force, or promises not contained in the
plea agreement, Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(2), and “that there is a factual basis for the plea,”
Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(b)(3). However, any variance from the requirements of Rule 11 “is
harmless error if it does not affect substantial rights.” Fed. R. Crim. P. 11(h). After
reviewing the record, we conclude that Miranda’s plea was knowing and voluntary. We
further conclude that the written factual basis included in the plea agreement, to which
Miranda agreed and which the district court adopted during the Rule 11 hearing, establishes
a sufficient factual basis for his plea.
As to Miranda’s sentence, we “review all sentences—whether inside, just outside,
or significantly outside the Guidelines range—under a deferential abuse-of-discretion
standard.” United States v. Torres-Reyes, 952 F.3d 147, 151 (4th Cir. 2020) (internal
quotation marks omitted). “To determine whether a sentence is procedurally reasonable,
[we] consider whether the district court properly calculated the defendant’s advisory
[G]uidelines range, gave the parties an opportunity to argue for an appropriate sentence,
considered the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors, and sufficiently explained the selected
sentence.” Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). “If the [c]ourt finds no significant
procedural error, it then considers the substantive reasonableness of the sentence imposed.”
United States v. Arbaugh, 951 F.3d 167, 172 (4th Cir.) (brackets and internal quotation
marks omitted), cert. denied, 141 S. Ct. 382 (2020). We look to “the totality of the
circumstances to see whether the sentencing court abused its discretion in concluding that
the sentence it chose satisfied the standards set forth in § 3553(a).” Id. at 176 (internal
quotation marks omitted). We presume that a sentence within or below a defendant’s
advisory Guidelines range is substantively reasonable. United States v. Zelaya, 908 F.3d
920, 930 (4th Cir. 2018). This “presumption can only be rebutted by showing that the
sentence is unreasonable when measured against the 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a) factors.” United
States v. Gutierrez, 963 F.3d 320, 344 (4th Cir. 2020) (internal quotation marks omitted),
cert. denied, 141 S. Ct. 1431 (2021). Our review of the record indicates that Miranda’s
Guidelines sentence is procedurally and substantively reasonable.
In accordance with Anders, we have reviewed the entire record in this case and have
found no meritorious grounds for appeal. We therefore affirm the district court’s judgment.
This court requires that counsel inform Miranda, in writing, of the right to petition the
Supreme Court of the United States for further review. If Miranda requests that a petition
be filed, but counsel believes that such a petition would be frivolous, then counsel may
move in this court for leave to withdraw from representation. Counsel’s motion must state
that a copy thereof was served on Miranda.
Outcome: We dispense with oral argument because the facts and legal contentions are
adequately presented in the materials before this court and argument would not aid the decisional process.