Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to suppress evidence obtained during a police encounter that occurred more than four years before he was indicted for misusing a social security number. The court held that the district court did not clearly err in finding that defendant's roommate's consent to enter the apartment was voluntary; the fact that the roommate was under arrest and had not received a Miranda warning did not render the consent involuntary; and agents had reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant was in the country illegally and to seize him by adjuring him to sit in the living room for questioning. View "United States v. Cobo-Cobo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 188 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to possessing heroin with intent to distribute. The court held that defendant was a career offender under USSG 4B1.1 because his prior conviction for first degree assault in Missouri was a crime of violence. View "United States v. Minnis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 121 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court considered the mitigating factors, but gave them little weight relative to the other 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. Furthermore, the district court also did not commit a clear error of judgment in weighing the section 3553(a) factors. In this case, the district court did not clearly err by giving great weight to defendant's extensive history of criminal conduct, or by giving little weight to her history of drug addiction and the fact that her previous offenses were all misdemeanors. View "United States v. Ballard" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of five years probation including six months confinement and order of restitution to the Social Security Administration. Defendant pleaded guilty to theft of United States property for knowingly receiving four Social Security disability benefits to which he was not entitled, and the district court applied a six-level sentencing enhancement under 2B1.1(b)(1)(D). The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for leave to file his untimely objections. Furthermore, the motion was futile because he failed to object with specificity and clarity to fact statements in the presentencing report; overpayments began when he became capable of substantial gainful activity, regardless of when he began earning income; and had the district court allowed defendant to raise an untimely objection to the amount of loss, the government could have presented evidence addressing when he was able to engage in substantial gainful activity, when he intended to begin receiving benefits he did not deserve, and how long he intended those benefit thefts to continue. View "United States v. Dokes" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit vacated defendant's sentence after he was convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that defendant's prior conviction for burglary under the Illinois statute used a broader definition of "building" than Taylor v. United States, 495 U.S. 575 (1990), and thus defendant's conviction did not qualify as a predicate offense under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e). Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Byas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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An administrative panel's denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction typically is the law of the case, ordinarily to be adhered to in the absence of clear error or manifest injustice. After the Eighth Circuit affirmed petitioner's sentence for a drug offense, he then filed a motion to vacate his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. The district court denied the motion, but granted a certificate of appealability. Seeing no error or manifest injustice, the court proceeded to the merits of the case and held that, because petitioner made the same Rule 11 argument in his direct appeal, the court declined to relitigate the issue; petitioner has not shown that the government's silence regarding a twelve-year sentence amounted to a promise that induced him to plead guilty; and defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim failed because he failed to point to sufficient contemporaneous evidence to support his post hoc assertion that he would not have pleaded guilty absent his attorney's advice. Accordingly, the court affirmed the denial of petitioner's section 2255 motion. View "Thompson v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's conviction of two violations of 36 C.F.R. 261.3(c), which prohibits threatening, intimidating, or intentionally interfering with any Forest officer. In this case, the citations charged defendant with harassment, which was not prohibited by section 261.3(c), and interference. Therefore, the verdict was permissible only if it rested on the theory that defendant intentionally interfered with the officers. The court held that the district court plainly erred by subjecting defendant to a constructive amendment that materially and substantially affected defendant's right to notice of the charges against him. In this case, sufficient evidence supported defendant's convictions on the grounds that he intimidated the officers. Because defendant was convicted of a crime for which he was not charged, and the conviction was supported by sufficient evidence, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. McDill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the petition for habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. 2254 as time-barred. The court held that the state did not knowingly and intelligently waive its statute-of-limitations defense; the district court properly analyzed the state's motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15(a)(2) in analyzing whether to address the state's statute-of-limitations defense; the court rejected petitioner's claim that the district court incorrectly applied 28 U.S.C. 2244(d)(1)(A) as the trigger for his one-year limitations period; petitioner was not entitled to tolling under section 2244(d)(1)(B); the district court did not fail to toll the statute of limitations for any time during which petitioner's application was "pending" and thus his habeas petition was not timely filed under section 2244; and, whether or not the court applied the stop-clock approach, petitioner was not eligible for equitable tolling. View "Coulter v. Kelley" on Justia Law

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Defendants Parker, Veltrez Black, Johnson, and Bender appealed their convictions for conspiring to possess firearms in a conspiracy involving gang members with felony convictions who enlisted "straw purchasers." In regard to Veltrez Black's contentions, the Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err in denying his motion for a mistrial; the district court did not abuse its discretion in allowing the government's statements, nor did it abuse its discretion in allowing evidence to support these statements; the court rejected Veltrez Black's remaining evidentiary contentions; the evidence was sufficient to support Veltrez Black's conviction for conspiracy; but the court vacated Veltrez Black's firearm possession conviction due to insufficient evidence and remanded for resentencing. In regard to Bender's contentions, the court affirmed defendant's conviction but vacated defendant's sentence because it was procedurally unsound due to a Guidelines calculation error. Finally, the court affirmed Parker and Johnson's convictions. View "United States v. Parker" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for conspiracy to defraud the government and money laundering. The court held that defendant's double jeopardy claim failed or was barred by his guilty plea; the district court did not clearly err when it found that defendant's incarcerated victims were vulnerable and applied an enhancement under USSG 3A1.1; the district court did not impermissible double-count when it imposed a two-level increase for ten or more victims, and when it imposed an 18-level increase for intended loss based on the 770-plus social security numbers used to file the fraudulent tax returns through Minnesota companies; the district court reasonably sentenced defendant based on a greater amount of loss; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in deciding that at least some of defendant's conduct in Florida was not relevant conduct to the Minnesota conspiracy and thus declined to run defendant's sentences concurrently. View "United States v. Pierre" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law