Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court accepting Defendant’s plea of guilty to wire fraud charges and sentencing Defendant to forty-one months’ imprisonment. This sentence meant that Defendant would serve six additional months of prison time beyond the amount to which he and the government had conditionally agreed in a plea agreement. Defendant was also ordered to pay $265,535 in restitution to various victims identified in the presentence report (PSR). The plea agreement called for $49,000 in restitution. The First Circuit held (1) the district court did not err in rejecting the plea agreement Defendant negotiated with the government; (2) any error on the part of the district court in not allowing Defendant to negotiate and submit a new agreement was harmless; and (3) any error on the part of the district court in sentencing Defendant before he reviewed the PSR was harmless. View "United States v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court accepting Defendant’s unconditional plea of guilty to wire fraud, bank fraud, and money laundering and sentencing Defendant to 135 months of imprisonment. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the government unfairly procured his guilty plea by misusing information he provided during proffer sessions. The First Circuit held (1) it was not clear or obvious that Defendant’s plea was the involuntary product of impermissible government malfeasance under Ferrara v. United States, 456 F.3d 278 (1st Cir. 2006); and (2) Defendant’s sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Scott" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit dismissed Appellant’s appeal of his conviction for attempted illegal reentry into the United States following removal subsequent to a conviction for an aggravated felony and sentence to thirty-three months’ imprisonment, holding that Appellant waived his right to appeal as part of his plea agreement. Appellant pled guilty to the charge pursuant to a plea agreement. On appeal, Appellant argued that his prior conviction was not an aggravated felony or crime of violence. The First Circuit dismissed the appeal, holding (1) Appellant agreed to waive his right to appeal his conviction and sentence in this case, and that waiver was made knowingly and voluntarily; and (2) because enforcing the waiver would not work of miscarriage of justice, the waiver barred this appeal. View "United States v. Marte-De La Cruz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment entered by the trial court convicting Defendant of attempting to possess 500 grams or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court abused its discretion in denying his request for additional pretrial discovery and erred in instructing the jury regarding its duty to find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Defendant attempted to possess 500 grams or more of cocaine with intent to distribute. The First Circuit disagreed, holding that the district court’s decision to deny the requested discovery was not an abuse of discretion and that the district court’s jury instructions were not erroneous. View "United States v. Goris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment sentencing Defendant to a 120-month statutory maximum term of imprisonment in connection with his guilty plea to a single count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held (1) the district court did not commit procedural error by focusing on Defendant’s numerically and graphically expansive record of drug and weapons charges to justify its variant sentence; and (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the statutory maximum sentence was justified because of Defendant’s pattern of serious crimes, and therefore, Defendant’s sentence was not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Concepcion-Montijo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court revoking Appellant’s supervised release and imposing a statutorily authorized, but above-guidelines, three-year term of imprisonment. On appeal, Appellant argued that the district court improperly shifted the burdens of production and persuasion at his final revocation hearing and that the error required resentencing. The First Circuit held that Appellate knowingly violated the terms of his supervised release, and that, on the record, the manner in which the district court proceeded could not have caused Appellant any improper prejudice. View "United States v. Lopez-Ortiz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit vacated Defendant’s sentence imposed in connection with his conviction for five counts of using facilities of interstate commerce in connection with the hiring of a person to commit a murder in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1958(a), holding that the indictment was multiplicitous and that the five counts of conviction should be merged. On appeal, the court held (1) the district court did not commit reversible error in allowing certain testimony; but (2) the appropriate unit of prosecution under 18 U.S.C. 1958(a) is a single plot to murder a single individual, not the number of times that the facilities of interstate commerce were used. Therefore, the indictment used the wrong unit of prosecution and, thus, was multiplicitous. View "United States v. Gordon" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment sentencing Appellant to a 168-month term of immurement in connection with his conviction for conspiring to possess five or more kilograms of cocaine with intent to distribute. Appellant pled guilty to the offense pursuant to a plea agreement with the government. In sentencing Appellant, the district court imposed a sentence enhancement based largely on Appellant’s admission that he captained the cocaine-laden boat used in the smuggling attempt. In affirming, the First Circuit held (1) the district court did not err in imposing the captain enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2D1.1(b)(3)(C) because the basis for the enhancement was plausible; and (2) the government did not breach its plea agreement with Appellant. View "United States v. Carbajal-Valdez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The First Circuit vacated the order of the district court granting Defendant’s motion to suppress evidence seized pursuant to a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) warrant obtained from a magistrate judge in the Eastern District of Virginia, holding that suppression was not warranted where the FBI acted in good faith reliance on the NIT warrant. The FBI in this case installed the NIT software on Playpen, a child pornography website it had taken over and was operating out of Virginia. The NIT effectively travelled to computers that were downloading from the website and then caused those computers to transmit information back to the FBI allowing the FBI to locate the computers. One computer the FBI located in this manner belonged to Defendant, who lived in Massachusetts. Defendant was charged with one count of possession of child pornography. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to suppress, concluding that the NIT warrant was issued without jurisdiction because the warrant purported to authorize a search of property located outside the federal judicial district where the issuing judge sat. The First Circuit reversed, holding that because the executing officers acted in good faith reliance on the NIT warrant, the exception set forth in United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984) applied. View "United States v. Levin" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit vacated Appellant’s conviction of one count of conspiracy in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1962, a provision of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, holding that a portion of the jury instructions in which the district court incorrectly described what constitutes “racketeering activity” under the Act warranted reversal. On appeal, Appellant argued, among other things, that his conviction must be overturned because of the mistaken instructions that “firearms” constitute “racketeering activity.” The First Circuit concluded that Appellant’s challenge to the jury instructions had merit and thus did not reach his other challenges. The court held that this was the rare case of an unpreserved challenge to a clear and obvious instructional error that met the plain error standard. View "United States v. Latorre-Cacho" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law