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United States v. Saravia-Benitez

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 9, 2018

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
JOSUE D. SARAVIA-BENITEZ, Defendant,

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          PAULA XINIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the Court is Josue D. Saravia-Benitez' (“Benitez” or “Appellant”) appeal of his four-day prison sentence following his guilty plea to speeding 114 miles in a 55 mile per hour speed zone. Appellant argues that the imposed sentence was procedurally unreasonable because the sentence was not supported by an adequate statement of reasons. Based on the following, this Court AFFIRMS the sentence below.

         I. Background

         On August 14, 2017, Appellant appeared before United States Magistrate Thomas DiGirolamo and pleaded guilty to the criminal misdemeanor offense of speeding in violation of 36 C.F.R. § 4.21(c). In support of his guilty plea, Benitez agreed that on May 11, 2017 at 2:15 a.m., he was speeding on the Baltimore Washington Parkway alongside another vehicle which was keeping pace with Benitez. Park Police radar detected that Benitez was traveling approximately 114 miles per hour in an area of the parkway with clearly posted 55 mile-per-hour signs. Park Police pulled over the vehicle and identified the operator as Benitez. It is undisputed that the Park Police radar was properly calibrated and accurately recorded the speed at which Benitez was traveling. Judge DiGirolamo found Appellant guilty of speeding and set sentencing for a later date at Benitez' request to allow him time to present evidence in mitigation of sentence.

         At sentencing, the government sought an unspecified term of imprisonment. The government particularly emphasized that Benitez had committed the instant offense after having previously been convicted of a separate speeding offense in state court and completed a driver improvement program as a sanction. ECF No. 9-2 p. 4. The government also provided Judge DiGirolamo with a copy of the Appellant's driving record.

         Benitez, through counsel, then advocated for probation, noting that Benitez is married, has a six-month-old son, and is gainfully employed. Benitez further underscored that his prior speeding offense involved traveling only ten miles per hour over the speed limit, and that in light of his age, probation is an appropriate sentence.

         Judge DiGirolamo orally pronounced Appellant's sentence as follows:

Well your record shows that you had a speeding conviction back in 2015, and you did go to a driver improvement program then. And then this offense occurred in May 2017. Less than a year after the driver improvement program. Speeding is an offense which people do knowingly -- no one forces you to speed.
When you get in a vehicle you have control over how fast you are going. Or how slowly you go. And I have never given a lot of weight to the excuse that, well someone is young so they are prone to speed. That just doesn't carry a whole lot of weight with me. It is particularly egregious in your case because you well knew through a driver improvement program, and less than a year later, you are going 114 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.
Which makes me wonder what you got out of that driver improvement program. Everybody makes mistakes. You could be on the beltway and the speed limit is 65 and you are keeping up with the flow of traffic and you are going 70 or 75. That is a mistake. Going 114 in a 55 is not a mistake. You weren't keeping up with any traffic. And you clearly knew you were going over the speed limit.
And that is clearly dangerous. Taking into account everything and in light of your age which you are fairly young, it is going to be a sentence of four days incarceration to be served over a weekend. I don't have any preference for a weekend. We can do that anytime within the next several weeks.

(Id. at 9-10).

         Magistrate Judge DiGirolamo then designated Benitez to serve the four days in jail on the dates provided by defense counsel. Id.

         II. ...


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