Criminal Defense of Immigrants


§ 10.28 5. Cultural Mitigation Issues

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Differences between the defendant’s culture and the dominant culture in this society can constitute a mitigating, if not an exonerating, factor in limiting the sentence imposed for conviction of a criminal offense. See § 3.60, supra.[88]


                     Cultural factors can sometimes play a role in federal sentencing proceedings.  See § 10.31(A), infra.[89]


[88] See, e.g., Doriane Lambelet Coleman, Individualizing Justice Through Multiculturalism: The Liberal’s Dilemma, 96 Colum. L. Rev. 1093 (1996); Holly Maguigan, Cultural Evidence and Male Violence: Are Feminist and Multiculturalist Reformers on a Collision Course in Criminal Courts?, 70 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 36 (1995); Alison Dundes Renteln, A Justification of the Cultural Defense as Partial Excuse, 2 S. Cal. Rev. L. & Women’s Stud. 437 (Spring 1993); Nilda Rimonte, A Question of Culture: Cultural Approval of Violence Against Women in the Pacific-Asian Community and the Cultural Defense, 43 Stan. L. Rev. 1311 (1991).  See American Bar Ass’n, A Judge’s Guide to Immigration Law in Criminal Proceedings, Chap. 3, Section VI (P. Goldberg & C. Wolchok, eds., 2004).

[89] United States v. Castillo, 386 F.3d 632 (5th Cir. Sept. 22, 2004) (no reversible plain error for district court to depart downwards in illegal re-entry sentence on the basis of the defendant’s cultural assimilation).