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Luna-Pliego v. State

Court of Appeals of Minnesota

November 20, 2017

Juan Antonio Luna-Pliego, petitioner, Appellant,
v.
State of Minnesota, Respondent.

         Dakota County District Court File No. 19HA-CR-14-3496

          Cathryn Middlebrook, Chief Appellate Public Defender, Lydia Maria Villalva Lijo, Assistant Public Defender, St. Paul, Minnesota (for appellant)

          Lori Swanson, Attorney General, St. Paul, Minnesota; and

          James C. Backstrom, Dakota County Attorney, G. Paul Beaumaster, Assistant County Attorney, Hastings, Minnesota (for respondent)

          Considered and decided by Ross, Presiding Judge; Johnson, Judge; and Bratvold, Judge.

         SYLLABUS

         Appellant is not entitled to resentencing under the sentencing guidelines that were modified pursuant to section 18 of the Drug Sentencing Reform Act, 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, because he was sentenced more than 11 months before May 23, 2016, the effective date of section 18, and did not pursue a direct appeal.

          OPINION

          JOHNSON, Judge

         In March 2015, Juan Antonio Luna-Pliego pleaded guilty to a first-degree controlled-substance crime. In June 2015, the district court imposed a sentence of 74 months of imprisonment, which was a presumptive sentence under the sentencing guidelines then in effect. In 2016, the Drug Sentencing Reform Act (DSRA) was enacted. In November 2016, Luna-Pliego petitioned for post-conviction relief, requesting that the district court resentence him under the latest version of the sentencing guidelines, which had been modified in light of the DSRA. The district court denied the petition. We conclude that Luna-Pliego is not entitled to resentencing under the modified sentencing guidelines because his conviction became final before the effective date of section 18 of the DSRA. Therefore, we affirm.

         FACTS

         On October 7, 2014, police officers found 95.71 grams of cocaine in Luna-Pliego's home. The state charged him with one count of first-degree controlled-substance crime, in violation of Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subds. 2(a)(1), 3(a) (2014). On March 4, 2015, Luna-Pliego pleaded guilty. On June 4, 2015, the district court imposed a sentence of 74 months of imprisonment, which was the shortest sentence within the presumptive sentencing range for an offender with a criminal-history score of zero. See Minn. Sent. Guidelines 4.A (2014). Luna-Pliego did not pursue a direct appeal.

         In 2016, the legislature passed, and the governor signed into law, the DSRA. See 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, at 576-92. Among other things, the DSRA amended certain statutory provisions that establish the threshold quantities of controlled substances for certain controlled-substance crimes. See 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, §§ 3-5, at 577-82. For example, section 3 of the DSRA increased the quantity threshold for first-degree possession of methamphetamine from 25 grams to 50 grams. 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, § 3, at 578 (codified at Minn. Stat. § 152.021, subd. 2(a)(1) (2016)). Section 3 of the DSRA provides that that section "is effective August 1, 2016, and applies to crimes committed on or after that date." 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, § 3, at 579.

         In addition, section 18 of the DSRA required the sentencing commission to modify certain provisions of the sentencing guidelines. See 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, § 18(b), at 591. For example, section 18 of the DSRA required the sentencing commission to classify first-degree controlled-substance crimes as severity level D8 instead of severity level D9. See 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, § 18(b)(1), (4), at 591. Consequently, the presumptive sentence for a first-degree controlled-substance crime for a person with a criminal-history score of zero now is 56 to 78 months of imprisonment, whereas it previously was 74 to 103 months of imprisonment. Compare Minn. Sent. Guidelines 4.C (2016) (drug offender guidelines grid), with Minn. Sent. Guidelines 4.A (2014) (standard guidelines grid). Section 18 of the DSRA provides that that section "is effective the day following final enactment." 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, § 18, at 591. Because the governor signed the DSRA into law on May 22, 2016, section 18 became effective on May 23, 2016. See 2016 Minn. Laws ch. 160, at 592.

         On November 8, 2016, Luna-Pliego petitioned for post-conviction relief. He asked the district court to resentence him to 56 months of imprisonment, which, in light of section 18 of the DSRA, is the shortest sentence within the presumptive sentencing range under the modified sentencing guidelines. See ...


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