Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. The court held that the district court did not err by imposing sentencing enhancements under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1)(A) for three or more firearms, USSG 3B1.4 for use of a child in the commission of the offense; and USSG 2K2.1(B)(6)(b) for committing the firearm offense in connection with another felony; defendant waived his argument that the district court abused its discretion in granting the government's request to continue; even if subject to plain error review, the district court did not abuse its discretion, much less commit plain error, in granting the government's motion for a short continuance to secure the attendance of an important witness; the district court did not err by calculating defendant's base offense level as his prior conviction for assault while displaying a dangerous weapon in violation of Iowa Code Sections 708.1 and 708.2(3) was a crime of violence resulting in a base offense level of 22 under Guidelines Sec. 2K2.1(a)(3); and even if there was error, the error was harmless. View "United States v. McGee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he violated his terms of supervision. The court held that the district court properly considered the relevant factors and did not procedurally err in failing to explain its sentence. In this case, the district court discussed defendant's lengthy criminal history and his noncompliance to court orders. Therefore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing defendant and his 24 month sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Holt" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit denied a petition for review of the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's denial of asylum, withholding of removal, and voluntary departure. The court held that the record contained sufficient facts to support the BIA's conclusion that petitioner's prior conviction under North Dakota law for unlawful entry into a vehicle was an aggravated felony attempted theft as defined by 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(43)(U) and (G). View "Ahmed v. Sessions" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit held that defendant's challenge to his revocation sentence was moot because he had served the sentence and been release from custody. The court vacated the mandatory condition of supervised release requiring defendant to participate in an approved program for domestic violence, holding that there was lack of evidence supporting the condition and a complete lack of explanation for its imposition. Therefore, the district court erred and the error affected defendant's substantial rights. View "United States v. Hill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that evidence regarding the firearm's operability was properly excluded because it would have yielded substantial juror confusion without having significant probative value regarding the issue of weapon design; the firearm, a .380 Cobra, qualified as a firearm for purposes of the statute despite its missing pieces and broken parts; and proof that the firearm was operable was not required because the language of 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(3) requires only that the weapon was designed to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. The court held however that the district court erred by sentencing defendant under the Armed Career Criminal Act in light of the court's en banc decision in United States v. Naylor, 887 F.3d 397 (8th Cir. 2018) (en banc). Therefore, the court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Hardin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful reentry as a removed alien after an aggravated felony conviction. The court held that the district court did not plainly err by increasing defendant's base offense level by eight under USSG 2L1.2(b)(1)(C), based on his previous burglary convictions under California law. The court upheld the aggravated felony enhancement under section 2L1.2(b)(1)(C), and held that defendant could not maintain his vagueness challenge under the reasoning in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), and Beckles v. United States, 137 S. Ct. 886 (2017). The court also held that the sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court weighed the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Sanchez-Rojas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed Defendants Benton, Tate, and Kesari's conviction of causing false records, causing false campaign expenditure reports, engaging in a false statements scheme; and conspiring to commit these offenses. Benton served as campaign chairman in Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign, Tate served as campaign manager, and Kesari served as deputy campaign manager. The court held that there was sufficient evidence to convict defendants; the jury was entitled to infer from the facts that Benton and Tate had knowingly and willfully caused Commission reports to be filed which falsely reported the payments to a senator for his endorsement as payments to ICT for audio/visual services; the court rejected defendants' arguments that the reporting requirements were so vague or confusing that the court should either apply the rule of lenity or determine that criminal enforcement was not appropriate in this case; Kesari's counts were not multiplicitious; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Tate's motion to sever his trial from his codefendants; and the court rejected challenges to the jury instructions, evidentiary challenges, and a Jencks Act claim. View "United States v. Benton" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to drug and firearms charges. The court held that no plain procedural error occurred, and any such error would have been harmless because the district court sentenced defendant to the statutory minimum. Furthermore, the sentence was not subject to review for reasonableness because it was statutorily imposed. In this case, there was no basis for defendant's claim that his guilty plea to all three counts was not knowing and voluntary or that the district court denied his Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial. Finally, the court granted counsel's motion to withdraw. View "United States v. Padilla" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of bank robbery, holding that the district court did not err by failing to suppress an in-court identification. The court explained that, even if the district court erred in not conducting a reliability analysis under Neil v. Biggers, 409 U.S. 188 (1972), defendant's arguments failed because the error was not plain under current law where the courts were divided as to whether a reliability analysis was required to admit an in-court identification. View "United States v. Shumpert" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 180 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not err in concluding that defendant's prior conviction for aggravated assault on a family member in violation of Ark. Code Ann. Sec. 5-26-306(a)(3) was a violent felony for purposes of sentencing under the Armed Career Criminal Act. Therefore, defendant had three prior violent felony convictions and could be sentenced under the mandatory minimum sentence pursuant to the Act. View "United States v. Pyles" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law