Justia U.S. 1st Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Criminal Law
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The First Circuit reversed the ruling of the district court suppressing blood alcohol content evidence from a warrantless blood draw because no exigent circumstances were present, holding that the district court misapplied the law to the facts in this case.After a car accident that killed three people, a police officer ordered a warrantless blood of Defendant's blood without Defendant's consent and without exigent circumstances. The government charged Defendant with three counts of manslaughter and other intoxicated-driving crimes. Defendant filed a motion to suppress evidence from the warrantless blood draw, which the district court granted. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the government met its burden to show it was reasonable for the police officer to think exigent circumstances existed when he took the blood draw. View "United States v. Manubolu" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of possession of child pornography involving a minor who had not yet attained twelve years of age and sentence of twenty-eight months' imprisonment followed by a sixty-month term of supervised release, holding that Defendant's claims of error were unavailing.Specifically, the First Circuit held (1) the government's evidence was sufficient to sustain a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; (2) there was no plain error in the district court's procedure for entertaining juror questions; and (3) Defendant waived any objection to the district court's jury instruction on the definition of "knowingly." View "United States v. Levin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying, without a hearing, Defendant's motion seeking a reduction of his sentence per the terms of the Fair Sentencing Act, Pub. L. No. 111-220, 2, 124 Stat. 2372, and the First Step Act of 2018, Pub. L. No. 115-391, 231 Stat. 5194, holding that the district court did not err.In 2008, Defendant was convicted by a jury of distributing more than five grams of cocaine base and sentenced to eighteen years in prison. After Congress passed the Fair Sentencing Act and the First Step Act, Defendant filed a motion in district court seeking a reduction in his sentence per the terms of those statutes. The district court summarily denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in declining to modify Defendant's sentence. View "United States v. Fields" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit vacated Defendant's conviction of attempted enticement of a minor for unlawful sexual activity, holding that the district court committed plain error in failing to give a jury instruction on the entrapment defense.Defendant was apprehended through a sting operation in which a government agent created a profile on a dating application and, after being contact by Defendant, offered to arrange a sexual encounter with the agent's "minor boyfriend." On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court erred in rejecting his request for an entrapment instruction. The First Circuit agreed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial court committed clear or obvious error in refusing Defendant's entrapment defense, and the error affected Defendant's substantial rights and undermined the fundamental fairness of his trial. View "United States v. Perez-Rodriguez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's upwardly variant sixty-month sentence that followed his conviction on charges of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a machine gun and the twenty-four-month sentence that followed the revocation of Defendant's supervised release term, holding that Defendant's claims of error were unavailing.The conduct underlying Defendant's conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a machine gun violated the conditions of an ongoing term of supervised release. Defendant challenged both sentences on appeal. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant's challenges to his sentences on both procedural and substantive grounds failed. View "United States v. Velez-Andino" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed in full the verdicts of the jury convicting the five defendants in this case on charges brought under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. 1962(d) but vacated the restitution and forfeiture orders, holding that the jury's special findings and verdicts as to all defendants were affirmed.Defendants in this case were a group of pharmaceutical executives involved with Insys Therapeutics, Inc., which marketed and sold Subsys, a fentanyl-laced medication approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of breakthrough cancer pain. A jury found Defendants guilty of racketeering charges, and the court sentenced Defendants to prison terms of varying lengths. The First Circuit upheld the jury verdicts in full and affirmed the district court's denial of Defendants' various motions for judgments of acquittal and/or new trials but vacated the restitution and forfeiture orders, holding that the district court erred as to these orders. View "United States v. Simon" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed upon Defendant in connection with his conviction for aggravated Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) conspiracy based on Massachusetts second-degree murder, holding that Defendant did not meet his burden of showing any plain error.The district court ordered Defendant to pay restitution, determining that restitution was mandatory under the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act (MVRA), 18 U.S.C. 3663A, because the RICO conspiracy was a crime of violence with an identifiable victim who suffered a physical injury. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in requiring him to pay restitution under the MVRA. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no clear or obvious error by the district court in this case. View "United States v. Solis-Vasquez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court refusing to exercise its discretion to provide compassionate release to Defendant under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(1)(A), as recently amended by the First Step Act (FSA), Pub. L. No. 115-391, 603(b), 132 Stat. 5194, 5239 (2018), holding that the district court did not abuse its broad discretion in denying Defendant's motion.Approximately three decades ago, Defendant was convicted of several criminal offenses connected to his role in laundering more than $136 million for a Colombian drug cartel. The district court sentenced him to an aggregate 660-year term of immurement. The First Circuit affirmed. In 2020, Defendant moved for compassionate release based on health-related concerns and arguing that the unusual length of his prison term constituted an extraordinary and compelling reason for his release. The district court denied the motion. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was a sufficient basis for the district court's decision. View "United States v. Saccoccia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit vacated Defendant's sentence imposed in connection with her conviction for maintaining a drug-involved premises, holding that the lack of evidence on the critical issue in this case required that the case be remanded for resentencing.The trial court sentenced Defendant to a below-the-range term of immurement of thirty-four months, to be followed by a three-year term of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant argued that the record evidence did not support the district court's determination that Defendant, above and beyond providing her apartment as a drug-involved premises, could be said to have participated in the drug operation, and therefore, the district court erred by declining to apply the offense-level cap limned in U.S.S.G. 2D1.8(a). The First Circuit vacated Defendant's sentence, holding that the record did not permit a reasoned determination that Defendant participated in the drug operation within the meaning of section 2D1.8(a)(2). View "United States v. Patch" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The First Circuit vacated Defendant's forty-eight-month prison sentence that the district court imposed after Defendant entered a guilty plea to one count of firearm possession, holding that resentencing was required in this case.The district court imposed a variant sentence of forty-eight months - eighteen months more than the top of the guidelines sentencing range and twice the length of the sentence that both parties recommended. On appeal, Defendant challenged both the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence. The First Circuit vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that the district court committed plain procedural error by imposing an upward variance without adequate explanation. View "United States v. Carrasquillo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law