Salinas v. United States

Facts of the Case

This federal prosecution arose from a scheme in which a Texas county sheriff accepted money, and his deputy, petitioner Salinas, accepted two watches and a truck, in exchange for permitting women to make so-called contact visits to one Beltran, a federal prisoner housed in the county jail pursuant to an agreement with the Federal Government. Salinas was charged with one count of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO),


Is a prior conviction of simple possession of a controlled substance a “controlled substance offense” for sentencing purposes?


In a per curiam decision, the Court held that simple possession of a controlled substance did not constitute a “controlled substance offense.” Because the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines states that possession of a controlled substance must be accompanied by “intent to manufacture, import, export, distribute or dispense,” Salinas’ conviction for simple possession did not qualify.

Case Information

  • Citation: 547 US 188 (2006)
  • Decided Apr 24, 2006