Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 168 months in prison imposed in connection with his guilty plea to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone and cocaine, holding that Defendant’s appeal waiver was enforceable and barred his appeal. Defendant’s guilty plea, the result of a plea bargain with the government, included an express waiver of Defendant’s right to appeal his conviction or sentence if his sentence rested on a base offense level no lower than twenty-six and no higher than thirty. At sentencing, the district judge ruled that Defendant had a base offense level of thirty. The First Circuit held that Defendant’s appeal waiver barred his challenges to his sentence because he failed to meet the plain error test set forth in United States v. Borrero-Acevedo, 533 F.3d 11 (1st Cir. 2008), or to establish that that the miscarriage of justice exception established in United States v. Teeter, 257 F.3d 14 (1st Cir. 2001), applied. View "United States v. Morillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed by Appellant, who was serving a life sentence in a state correctional facility, holding that the state rulings challenged by Appellant were neither contrary to nor an unreasonable application of clearly established Supreme Court precedent. In 1995, Appellant was convicted by a Massachusetts jury of first degree murder. Appellant later field this petition for habeas corpus, which the district court denied. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) did not unreasonably reject Appellant’s arguments that the trial judge’s omission of a jury instruction requested by Appellant and the trial judge’s giving of another instruction requested by the prosecution violated his due process rights; (2) the SJC did not unreasonably reject Appellant’s argument that misconduct in the prosecutor’s closing arguments violated his due process rights; (3) the admission of statements made by non-testifying co-conspirators did not result in a fundamentally unfair trial; and (4) the SJC did not unreasonably apply Supreme Court case law in affirming the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for a mistrial. View "Hardy v. Maloney" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for a sentence reduction, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion. Defendant pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute between fifteen to fifty kilograms of cocaine. The trial judge sentenced Defendant to fifteen years’ imprisonment. Thereafter, the U.S. Sentencing Commission adopted Amendment 782, which reduced by two levels the base offense level for the crime to which Defendant pleaded guilty. Defendant subsequently filed a motion seeking a reduced sentence. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit remanded the case, and on remand, the district court again denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Defendant’s motion seeking a reduced sentence. View "United States v. Rodriguez-Rosado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence of seventy-seven months’ imprisonment and remanded this case for further proceedings, holding that, under the Jones Act, 48 U.S.C. 864, the district court impermissibly considered an untranslated Spanish-language document at Defendant’s sentencing. Defendant pleaded guilty to one count of assault with a dangerous weapon. The presentence report determined that Defendant qualified as a “career offender” because he had two prior convictions for “crimes of violence.” To support the assertion that Defendant’s prior conviction for aggravated battery was a crime of violence the government attached a Spanish-language copy of a Puerto Rico judgment of conviction for the offense at issue. The district court ultimately ruled that Defendant’s aggravated battery conviction qualified as a crime of violence and that Defendant was thus a career offender. The First Circuit vacated and remanded the sentence, holding that the Jones Act required that the Court set aside the untranslated document concerning Defendant’s judgment of conviction, thus leaving the Court no basis for concluding that the district court permissibly found that Defendant’s conviction was for aggravated battery in the fourth degree. View "United States v. Reyes-Rivas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute oxycodone, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial court improperly assigned points for a previous sentence that should have been excluded as conduct that was “part of the instant offense” under Section 4A1.2 of the United States Sentencing Guidelines - namely, Defendant’s 2013 conviction in state court for possession with intent to sell or dispense. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the district court did not err in treating the 2013 conviction as a prior sentence for purposes of determining Defendant’s criminal history category. View "United States v. Vicente" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress and affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, holding (1) there was no basis on which to grant Defendant’s motion to suppress; and (2) there was no error in Defendant’s conviction. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress the handgun at issue because it was discovered during an unconstitutional search of his vehicle. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) the search of Defendant’s vehicle was not unconstitutional, and therefore, the weapon was not the fruit of an unlawful search and did not require suppression; and (2) Defendant’s conviction was supported by sufficient evidence of his knowing and intentional possession of the weapon. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence to a 188-month term of immurement, holding that Defendant waived his “career offender” argument and made no showing sufficient to excuse that waiver. Defendant pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and detectable quantities of cocaine hydrochloride and fentanyl. During sentencing, Defendant repeatedly agreed that he should be sentenced as a career offender. The district court found Defendant to be a career offender and imposed a bottom-of-the-range term of immurement. Defendant appealed, assigning error to the district court’s treatment of him as a career offender. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the equities preponderated heavily in favor of enforcing Defendant’s waiver of his argument against career offender status. View "United States v. Orsini" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of thirty months’ imprisonment for possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. Pursuant to a plea agreement, Defendant pleaded guilty to knowingly and unlawfully possessing a firearm and ammunition while being an unlawful drug user. Defendant agreed to a waiver-of-appeal provision. Defendant then brought this appeal challenging his sentence. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that this Court need not rely on the appeal waiver to dispense with Defendant’s appeal because, even if it did consider the merits of Defendant’s challenges to his sentence, those challenges failed. View "United States v. Mangual-Rosado" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence imposed in connection with his plea of guilty to being a felon in possession of a handgun and twenty rounds of ammunition, holding that there was no error in the sentence fashioned by the district court. The district court sentenced Defendant to eighty-six months. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the district court did not err in determining that Defendant’s prior Massachusetts drug distribution and assault with a dangerous weapon conviction qualified as a “crime of violence” under the United States Sentencing Guidelines; and (2) the district court properly applied a sentencing enhancement for possession “in connection with” another felony. View "United States v. Oliveira" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction of one counts of stalking in violation 18 U.S.C. 2216A, holding that Defendant’s constitutional challenge was unsuccessful, there was no error in the district court’s jury instructions, and sufficient evidence supported the conviction. On appeal, Defendant brought a First Amendment challenge to the federal anti-stalking statute, arguing that section 2261A(2)(B) is facially overbroad and a content-based restriction on speech that does not survive strict scrutiny. The First Circuit disagreed as to this issue and the remaining issues Defendant raised on appeal, holding (1) Defendant’s First Amendment challenge to the statute was unavailing; (2) the district court did not err in denying Defendant’s request for a unanimity instruction or in giving jury instructions that precisely tracked the statute’s wording; and (3) there was sufficient evidence to support Defendant’s conviction. View "United States v. Ackell" on Justia Law