Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed in connection with Defendant’s plea of guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition and one count of possession of a machine gun, holding that Defendant’s sixty-six-month sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The district court imposed an above guideline sentence of sixty-six months imprisonment for each count, to be served concurrently, and three years of supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court’s sentence was procedurally reasonable; and (2) the sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Sosa-Gonzalez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence for wire fraud and theft in connection with health care, holding that Defendant’s upwardly variant sentence was both procedurally and substantively reasonable. Defendant pled guilty to one count of theft in connection with health care and one count of wire fraud. The district court imposed an upwardly variant sentence of sixty months’ imprisonment on each count of conviction, to run concurrently and to be followed by three years of supervised release. The court also ordered Defendant to forfeit $394,300 and to pay $590,296 in restitution to the victim. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant’s sentence was neither procedurally unreasonable nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Gierbolini-Rivera" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s sentence of 120 months’ imprisonment followed by lifetime supervised release imposed in connection with Defendant’s plea of guilty to possession of child pornography, holding that Defendant’s sentence was without procedural error and was substantively reasonable. After noting that even assuming, favorably to Defendant that the abuse of discretion standard applied, the First Circuit held that Defendant failed to establish any abuse of discretion on appeal. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court adequately explained why it imposed a condition of lifetime supervised release; (2) Defendant’s within-guidelines sentence of lifetime supervised release was substantively reasonable; and (3) Defendant’s ten-year term of imprisonment was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Harrison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentenced imposed in connection with Defendant’s guilty plea to possession with intent to distribute, holding that Defendant’s sentence was not substantively unreasonable and that there was no error in the sentence. After considering a ten-year sentence to protect the public from “someone who is a career criminal,” the court sentenced Defendant to seventy-eight months’ imprisonment, a sentence significantly below Defendant’s guidelines sentencing range as a career offender. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant’s claim that the trial court wrongly denied him a minimal participant reduction was unavailing because a minimal participant designation would not have helped him; (2) Defendant qualified as a career offender; and (3) the below-guidelines sentence of seventy-eight months was not unreasonable. View "United States v. Reid" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the 121-month sentence imposed in connection with Defendant's plea of guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine base, holding that the district court correctly calculated Defendant’s Guidelines sentencing range (GSR). On appeal, Defendant raised two procedural challenges to the district court’s calculation of his GSR. After reviewing the record, which showed that Defendant maintained a false identity throughout his criminal proceedings, the First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding that the district court imposed a plainly warranted sentence enhancement for obstruction of justice and did not err in denying Defendant a credit for acceptance of responsibility. View "United States v. Perez-Crisostomo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed in connection with the district court’s revocation of Defendant’s supervised release, holding that Defendant’s sentence did not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment and that the sentence was substantively reasonable. After he was released from federal custody following a drug trafficking conviction, Defendant pleaded guilty to felony drug possession in state court. The district court revoked Defendant’s supervised release and imposed a sentence of twenty-four months’ imprisonment, concluding that Defendant’s conduct violated his conditions of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged the substantive reasonableness of his sentence and argued that because his drug addiction is a disease, sentencing him to a term of imprisonment for manifesting a condition of his disease was cruel and unusual punishment. The First Circuit disagreed, holding (1) it is not “clear or obvious” that the practice of incarcerating defendants for drug use and possession is unconstitutional; and (2) Defendant’s two-year sentence is not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Sirois" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s conviction and sentence for participating in a conspiracy to bribe an agent of an organization receiving federal funds and of receiving a bribe, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the trial court proceedings. Defendant, a former Puerto Rico Superior Court Judge, was found guilty of both counts by a jury. Defendant was sentenced to sixty months of imprisonment for one count and 120 months of imprisonment for the other count, to be served concurrently. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) there was sufficient evidence supporting Defendant’s convictions; (2) Defendant did not demonstrate that any alleged error in the government’s opening statement and closing argument or in the admission of certain testimony affected his substantial rights or that they impaired the fairness, integrity, or the public reputation of the judicial proceedings; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in upholding a witness’s invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege; and (4) any claimed sentencing error would be harmless. View "United States v. Acevedo-Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition, holding that Appellant’s three prior convictions were Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) predicates, and therefore, Appellant’s sentence as an armed career criminal was proper. On appeal, Appellant argued that his sentence under the ACCA was unconstitutional under Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), Supreme Court precedent decided after his earlier appeal from his conviction was rejected. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that three of Appellant’s convictions qualified as violent felonies under the ACCA’s force clause, and therefore, the district court did not err in dismissing Appellant’s section 2255 petition. View "Lassend v. United States" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s 180-month sentence for conspiracy to possess five kilograms or more of cocaine with intent to distribute, holding that the district court’s failure to impose a downward departure or downward variance was not an abuse of discretion and that Defendant’s sentence was substantively reasonable. After Defendant pleaded guilty to the offense, he sought a downward departure under U.S.S.G. 5H1.4 - as well as a downward variance - arguing that his life would be shortened by a guidelines sentence since prison facilities would be unable to address fully his medical needs. The court imposed a sentence within the guidelines range. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) Defendant’s health condition did not warrant a downward departure; (2) Defendant’s arguments for a downward variance were properly rejected by the district court; and (3) Defendant’s sentence was both “plausibly reasoned and within the universe of reasonable sentences.” View "United States v. Madera-Rivera" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant’s 120-month prison sentence, holding that the district court did not err in imposing a five-level enhancement for “engag[ing] in a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor,” U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(5), and a two-level enhancement for “knowingly engag[ing] in [the] distribution” of child pornography, U.S.S.G. 2G2.2(b)(3)(F). Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and was sentenced to 120 months in prison. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the district court properly increased Defendant’s offense level by five levels after finding the requisite pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse or exploitation of a minor; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that Defendant knowingly engaged in the distribution of child pornography, which resulted in a two-level enhancement. View "United States v. Cates" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law