Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to distribution of methamphetamine. The court held that the district court did not err in determining that defendant's prior conviction for robbery in violation of Arkansas Code Annotation Section 5-12-102 was a crime of violence for purposes of career offender sentencing under USSG 4B1.1. The court held that Arkansas robbery has the same elements as the generic definition of robbery, which involves the use or threat of physical force upon another. View "United States v. Stovall" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's motion to suppress evidence after he pleaded guilty to possessing equipment having reasonable cause to believe it would be used to manufacture a controlled substance. The court held that the district court did not err in finding that a glass beaker was in plain view on defendant's deck, and the officer's lawful search was not tainted by a prior officer's earlier illegal entry. The court also held that defendant was not entitled to a Franks hearing because he failed to show that an officer seeking the warrant omitted information in reckless disregard of the truth. Furthermore, the district court properly rejected defendant's argument that the officer falsely stated that the beaker was in plain view. Finally, the court held that, under the totality of circumstances, the warrant application had sufficient information to establish probable cause. View "United States v. Reed" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to five counts of distribution of a controlled substance. The court held that the district court did not err by departing upward due to defendant's extensive criminal history in light of the seriousness of the crimes. Furthermore, the district court did not err by imposing an upward variance based on the seriousness of the instant offenses where the undisputed evidence established that defendant sold heroin on multiple occasions that contained fentanyl analogs unsafe for human consumption. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a substantively unreasonable sentence. View "United States v. Edmonds" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in knowing possession of firearms and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not clearly err by imposing a two-level sentencing increase for possession of three firearms under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1)(A). The court also held that the district court did not clearly err by declining to award a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility under USSG 3E1.1 after defendant frivolously contested that enhancement. Finally, the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a within-Guidelines sentence after considering the aggravating and mitigating factors, and declining to grant a downward variance. View "United States v. Goodson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A passport card is "a United States passport" under USSG 2L2.1(b)(5)(A). The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for charges related to the unlawful acquisition and sale of identity documents. The court applied basic rules of statutory interpretation, including the ordinary-meaning rule, and agreed with the district court that defendant's possession of a passport card justified enhancing her sentence for fraudulently obtaining or using a United States passport under section 2L2.1(b)(5)(A). View "United States v. Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of four counts of sexual abuse involving three young female relatives. The court held that the district court did not err in allowing the government to play video recordings of the victims' forensic interviews for the jury. In this case, defendant opened the door to the admission of one of the videos, defendant did not object to the admission of the other videos, and the admission did not affect his substantial rights where the videos were cumulative and the evidence of his guilt was strong overall. View "United States v. Lonnie Dale Spotted Bear" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to distribution of heroin to a person under the age of twenty-one. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by departing upward, in light of the applicable policy statements and USSG 5K2.1, because death resulted from the offense of conviction. In this case, the district court found defendant's conduct most akin to involuntary manslaughter, and sentenced him to the maximum punishment available under the federal involuntary manslaughter statute. The district court noted defendant's youth and acknowledged the hardship of addiction during adolescence, but reasonably concluded that other factors such as the seriousness of the offense and the need for deterrence warranted a longer sentence than what defendant proposed. View "United States v. Reif" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion to vacate his conviction under 28 U.S.C. 2255, based on the ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland v. Washington. Taking petitioner's assertions as true, the court held that counsel provided false assurance that petitioner's conviction for robbery would not result in his removal from this country and nothing in the record contradicted petitioner's factual assertions about counsel's advice. Furthermore, petitioner showed prejudice by asserting that he would have rejected the plea and insisted on trial but for counsel's misadvice. Therefore, the court held that the record did not conclusively show that petitioner was entitled to no relief and the district court abused its discretion by denying relief without an evidentiary hearing. Accordingly, the court remanded for an evidentiary hearing. View "Dat v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence and sentence imposed after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that police pursuit in attempting to seize defendant did not amount to a seizure within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment; the seizure of items from defendant's pockets after he was detained was not unconstitutional under the Terry stop because his flight from the officers in an area known for gun-related crime was sufficient to justify a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. Furthermore, the stop occurred in the middle of the night and an observer had previously observed a pistol in defendant's hand. The court also held that the officers were entitled to conduct a pat down search; after the discovery of the brass knuckles, the officers had probable cause to arrest defendant for carrying a dangerous weapon under Iowa state law; the seizure of the items in defendant's pockets was lawful as a search incident to arrest; and the place where the pistol was found, a ravine beyond the property line of defendant's residence, did not implicate defendant's Fourth Amendment rights. Finally, the district court did not err by applying a four-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(6)(B). View "United States v. Houston" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence found in a bag defendant had been carrying. Defendant had pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. The court held that, although defendant was in custody at the time, those in custody can still voluntarily consent to a search and, in this case, defendant had been advised of his constitutional rights and his statements were not the result of officers questioning him or asking for consent. Rather, defendant was responding to the resident and did so less than thirty minutes after he had been taken into custody and less than fifteen minutes after he had been read his Miranda rights. Furthermore, even if defendant did not consent to the search, the evidence would have been admissible under the inevitable discovery doctrine. View "United States v. Sallis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law