At the end of my recent post on the California laws the jury applied in the Kate Steinle murder case, I noted this observation by Andrew C. McCarthy:
It is a federal felony, up to 10 yrs’ imprisonment, to be an illegal alien in possession of firearm (18 USC secs.922(g), 924). DOJ should indict Zarate if haven’t already. Sentence consecutive to today’s state gun conviction could keep him in prison 13 yrs or so.
— Andy McCarthy (@AndrewCMcCarthy) December 1, 2017
McCarthy’s exact prediction has come to pass:
A federal grand jury has indicted a Mexican man on immigration and weapons charges after he was acquitted of murder in the 2015 shooting death of Kathryn Steinle, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
Each of the two new federal charges carries a maximum of 10 years in prison if Jose Ines Garcia Zarate is convicted, the government said. He was indicted on one count each of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and being an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Here is a screenshot from the indictment. Note that the statute, 18 U.S.C. 922(g), is the precise one mentioned by McCarthy:
A federal grand jury indicted Jose Inez Garcia-Zarate for being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and for being "an illegally present alien in possession of a firearm and ammunition," according to announcement from the Justice Department. pic.twitter.com/aLjUannlpO
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 6, 2017
This is not double jeopardy, principally because the federal government is a separate sovereign, and double jeopardy applies only to charges from the same sovereign.
Ken White of Popehat, a former federal prosecutor, routinely warns against putting any stock in news media statements about the amount of time a federal defendant is “facing.” Actual sentences are based on a complicated set of guidelines, taking into account a person’s record, their cooperation, remorse, and a host of other factors. So don’t get the idea that Zarate will necessarily get 10 years.
Still, this is a positive development in an otherwise very sad saga.