Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction on remand of possession of an unregistered firearm. The court held that there was ample circumstantial evidence for the district court to reasonably infer defendant constructively possessed the shotgun because he had access to and control over the duffel bag found in his bedroom closet and had knowledge of the shotgun because it was found inside the duffel bag along with the revolver, which had his DNA on it, and the train ticket in his name. The court also held that there was ample circumstantial evidence for the district court to reasonably infer that defendant knew the shotgun had a bore diameter of more than one half inch. Therefore, defendant was aware of the shotgun's physical characteristics that brought it within the ambit of the National Firearms Act. View "United States v. White" 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 from a traffic stop after he entered a conditional guilty plea to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the officer reasonably believed that the vehicle violated the traffic laws and there was sufficient probable cause for the stop. Therefore, the traffic stop was constitutional and the district court properly denied the motion to suppress. View "United States v. Miller" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of distribution of heroin and fentanyl resulting in serious bodily injury and possession of those drugs with intent to distribute. In this case, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury verdict, there was overwhelming evidence presented to the jury to establish but-for causation. Even if the jury had determined that the acetyl-fentanyl was an independently sufficient cause of the overdose, Burrage v. United States explicitly carved out an exception for cases where there are multiple independently sufficient causes. The court found that the jury drew reasonable inferences from the evidence that a third party's overdose was not caused by any opiate in his system prior to the ingestion of the heroin/fentanyl mixture he purchased from defendant. View "United States v. Seals" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 petition was successive and his substantive arguments were barred. The Eighth Circuit held that defendant's second amended judgment was not a new sentence where the judge orally sentenced him to 480 months in prison for count 6 of his conviction. The court held that the oral order directing the district court to correct its judgment did not change the sentence and the oral sentence of 480 months in prison was controlling. Accordingly, the court affirmed the second amended sentence. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence imposed after his successful motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 on the ground that it was substantively unreasonable. The Eighth Circuit enforced the appeal waiver in the plea agreement and dismissed the appeal. The court held that the government did not breach the plea agreement by implicitly recommending a different sentence than the one it was bound to recommend by the agreement, and there was no indication that defendant would have received a more favorable sentence but for the purported breach. Therefore, any actionable breach in this case would not relieve defendant of the appeal waiver because he failed to show a reasonably probable that he would have received a more favorable sentence but for the purported breach. View "United States v. Raifsnider" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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It is plain that the government cannot use the misprision statute to require someone to report a crime—an essential element of misprision—where doing so reasonably could lead to that individual's own prosecution. Defendant was convicted of conspiring to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Count 1), possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine (Count 2); and misprision of a felony (Count 3). The Eighth Circuit held that the evidence was sufficient to support her convictions. However, the court held that the district court erred by entering a misprision judgment against her and the error violated her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In this case, the jury's misprision conviction criminally punished defendant for failing to tell authorities about a crime in which she was already involved. Finally, the court held that, taken together, the mere presence jury instructions adequately and accurately conveyed the substance of defendant's requested instruction. Accordingly, the court affirmed Counts 1 and 2, reversed with instructions to vacate Count 3, and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Solis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was sentenced to 87 months in prison followed by a 5 year term of supervised release after he pleaded guilty to possession and attempted possession of child pornography. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's findings related to violations of two special conditions of supervised release as well as certain modified special conditions. The court held that the district court acted within its wide discretion when it found that defendant's failure to attend a treatment session violated the special condition requiring him to comply with his treatment plan; the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that defendant's discussion with a minor non-employee inside of a store was intentional, rather than incidental, contact. The court also held that defendant's pattern of dishonesty regarding his contacts with minor children combined with his previous admissions when scheduled to undergo polygraph testing were facts within the record that sufficiently satisfied the statutory requirements for imposition of a modified special condition that he undergo polygraph examination related to his sex offender treatment. Furthermore, the modified special condition regarding restricted access to Internet-connected devices was reasonably necessary to advance deterrence and protect the public. View "United States v. Newell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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When resentencing follows a successful 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion based on counsel's failure to appeal, the prescribed procedure is for the district court to vacate the sentence and then reimpose it. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's section 2255 motion to vacate his sentence. The court held that the district court did not procedurally err when it resentenced defendant to 200 months in 2017 where it followed clearly established procedure. Furthermore, even if the court were to agree with defendant that the sentencing package doctrine or any other consideration should compel district courts to follow a different procedure, any error the district court committed here would not be plain. The court also held that defendant's convictions for second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer were violent felonies under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA); defendant's challenge to his second degree assault convictions was procedurally defaulted; even if his assault convictions were considered a single conviction, he still had the requisite predicate offenses under the ACCA; and defendant's final two arguments were procedurally defaulted. View "United States v. Darden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed and vacated the district court's imposition of special conditions of supervised release prohibiting the consumption of alcohol and setting a curfew. In this case, defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute marijuana and conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court held that the waiver in the plea agreement did not prevent defendant from challenging the special conditions of supervised release. The court also held that the sentencing court abused its discretion by imposing the consumption of alcohol condition, because it failed to conduct an individualized inquiry into the circumstances of defendant's alcohol use and drug dependence. The sentencing court also abused its discretion by imposing the curfew, because it failed to make individualized findings. View "United States v. Bell" 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 vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255 in light of Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). The court held that when the record was inconclusive of what Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) clause was the basis of the sentencing enhancement, the second step is to determine the relevant legal environment at the time of sentencing. In this case, defendant had three predicate offenses at the time of her sentencing because her Iowa robbery conviction qualified as an ACCA predicate under the force clause. Therefore, defendant could not carry her section 2255 burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the residual clause led the sentencing court to apply the ACCA enhancement. View "Golinveaux v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law