Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's motion under 28 U.S.C. 2255 to vacate his sentence for bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. The court held that, even assuming petitioner's allegations were true, he failed to state a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. In this case, to the extent that petitioner argued defense counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to advise him to testify truthfully, the oath he swore provided him with sufficient notice of this basic obligation. Furthermore, to the extent petitioner challenged defense counsel's failure to warn him about all the possible consequences of his decision to testify, his argument failed because defense counsel did not need to warn him of the speculative risk that false testimony would lead to the unusual chain of events that occurred here. Finally, the plea agreement established that defense counsel's concession of the amount of loss at sentencing was objectively reasonable under the circumstances. View "Adejumo v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for conspiracy to commit, and use of a facility of interstate commerce in the commission of, murder for hire. The court held that the district court did not err by declining to instruct the jury on entrapment because there was insufficient evidence to raise a jury question that defendant was induced by a government agent. Therefore, the court need not consider whether defendant was predisposed to commit the crime of which he was convicted. View "United States v. Clarett" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that the district court did not clearly err by imposing a two-level enhancement under USSG 2D1.1(b)(2) for making a credible threat to use violence against cooperating codefendants. In this case, defendant paid a coconspirator to carry out assaults and demanded her money back when the assaults did not take place, stating that she would find someone else to do the job. View "United States v. Lewis-Zubkin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit enforced an appeal waiver as to a criminal history challenge and vacated a restitution award. In this case, defendant stole a car at gunpoint, killed the dog that was inside the vehicle, and caused a multi-vehicle traffic accident. The court held that defendant's appeal waiver was valid and should be enforced as to his challenge to his criminal history score, because the record demonstrated that defendant entered into the plea agreement and the appeal waiver knowingly and voluntarily; the argument fell within the scope of the waiver; and no miscarriage of justice would result from enforcing the waiver. However, the court held that defendant's challenge to the ordered restitution fell outside the scope of the appeal waiver; the restitution amount for chiropractic care for one of the victims was not supported by evidence because it was based on an estimate, not the actual loss caused by the injury; as to restitution for the death of the dog, it was properly based on the provisions of the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act addressing lost or destroyed property; and there were no other non-frivolous issues for appeal outside the scope of the waiver. View "United States v. Bagley" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for four offenses arising out of a bank robbery. The court held that the affidavit in support of search warrant was sufficient to establish probable cause to believe that he was the bank robber and that evidence would be found in his motel rooms; the district court did not plainly err in treating defendant's numerous letters to the court as complaints about his lack of access to the evidence rather than as motions for the appointment of new counsel; the district court did not plainly err by admitting an in-court identification by the driver of the van defendant attempted to carjack; the district court did not err by ruling that defendant forfeited his right to testify where defendant persisted in his view that he had the right to make irrelevant and highly inflammatory comments, despite multiple warnings that continuing to do so would cost him his right to testify; and the district court did not err in imposing a two-level enhancement for obstruction of justice. View "United States v. Evans" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that defendant's prior second-degree domestic assault conviction in Missouri state court was not a crime of violence under the United States Sentencing Guidelines because the statute criminalizes reckless driving, which does not require physical force and thus does not satisfy the force clause. Therefore, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Harris" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction after he pleaded guilty to unlawful use of identification documents and was sentenced to time served in prison. Defendant alleged that defense counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to adequately warn him about the immigration consequences of his guilty plea. The court held that the record was sufficient to determine that the ineffective assistance claim was without merit where defense counsel and the district court complied with Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356, 374 (2010). Furthermore, defendant already knew from his ICE custody and prior dealings with immigration officials that deportation was likely. View "United States v. Ramirez-Jimenez" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2254 where petitioner was convicted of two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of sexual contact with a child under the age of 16. The court held that petitioner failed to exhaust his remedies in regard to his claim that admission of a video of the victim implicated his rights under the Confrontation Clause; petitioner also failed to raise the Confrontation Clause issue before the district court; and the evidence at trial, including the video, provided an adequate basis for conviction. View "Brende v. Young" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's revocation sentence of 60 months in prison after defendant pleaded guilty in state court to first degree computer child pornography and computer exploitation of a child. The court held that the district court did not plainly err in failing to expressly state the applicable sentencing range where the district court considered related guidelines provisions and the discussions reflected an assessment that the offense warranted revocation and a substantial prison sentence; the statutes under which defendant was convicted provided a sufficient basis for the district court's factual findings; the district court did not plainly err in considering the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a)(2)(A) factors and did not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause; and defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Trung Dang" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for drug-related crimes. The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to suppress evidence because the facts set forth in the warrant affidavit supported probable cause; the district court did not err in denying defendant's motion to dismiss where there was no Speedy Trial Act violation; the district court did not abuse its discretion in admitting into evidence a poor quality recording because it was sufficient to provide the jury with the gist of the conversation and there was no plain error in giving the jury the limiting instruction to prevent consideration of inadmissible hearsay; the district court did not err by admitting text messages because the witness qualified as a coconspirator and the messages were not hearsay; and the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions. View "United States v. De La Torre" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law