Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA), 18 U.S.C. 924(e), holding that defendant's previous conviction for Minnesota first degree robbery was a violent felony and a predicate offense under the ACCA. The court reasoned that Minnesota's express requirement that a defendant communicate a threat to overcome resistance or to compel acquiescence necessarily implicated the use of violent force. View "United States v. Libby" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 160 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to one count of bank robbery. The court found no error, plain or otherwise, in the district court's imposition of defendant's sentence and the sentence was substantively reasonable. In this case, the district court adequately explained the sentence imposed and its deviation from the Guidelines range; considered all of the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) sentencing factors; had substantial latitude to determine how much weight to give the various factors; and was permitted to conclude that the Guidelines failed to adequately account for defendant's prior criminal history and his likelihood to reoffend. View "United States v. Murphy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence, holding that defendant's previous conviction for Oklahoma voluntary manslaughter qualified as a crime of violence under both versions of the Guidelines (2015 and 2016). In this case, defendant was convicted of sex trafficking of a child and sentenced as a career offender. The court explained that the Oklahoma voluntary manslaughter satisfied the generic definition of manslaughter. Furthermore, there was no Ex Post Facto Clause issue as to defendant's sentence and he was properly sentenced as a career offender. View "United States v. Steward" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a new trial based on the improper testimony from a witness that defendant had previous legal troubles and a federal prosecution because the evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming and the district court gave a proper instruction to the jury; defendant's sentence was procedurally reasonable where the district court properly calculated the total offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines; and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court spent substantial time considering and discussing the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Anwar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and controlled substance analogues, as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a new trial based on the improper testimony from a witness that defendant had previous legal troubles and a federal prosecution because the evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming and the district court gave a proper instruction to the jury; defendant's sentence was procedurally reasonable where the district court properly calculated the total offense level under the Sentencing Guidelines; and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable where the district court spent substantial time considering and discussing the 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors. View "United States v. Anwar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal or a new trial after she was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that a DEA agent's statement was not hearsay because it was properly admitted under Federal Rule of Evidence 702; even if the agent's statement was hearsay, the admission of the statement had slight or no influence on the outcome of the trial; the agent's testimony did not violate defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation rights; the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving a jury instruction permitting an inference of "intent to distribute" based on drug purity; the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the government met its burden of proof for venue; and the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant. View "United States v. Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal or a new trial after she was convicted of possession of methamphetamine with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. The court held that a DEA agent's statement was not hearsay because it was properly admitted under Federal Rule of Evidence 702; even if the agent's statement was hearsay, the admission of the statement had slight or no influence on the outcome of the trial; the agent's testimony did not violate defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation rights; the district court did not abuse its discretion in giving a jury instruction permitting an inference of "intent to distribute" based on drug purity; the district court did not abuse its discretion in finding that the government met its burden of proof for venue; and the evidence was sufficient to convict defendant. View "United States v. Lopez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A coram nobis petitioner whose motion for 28 U.S.C. 2255 relief was denied while he was in custody must obtain authorization from a three-judge panel of the court of appeals in accordance with section 2244(b)(3)(B). The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act's (AEDPA) restrictions on the grant of successive relief set forth in section 2255(h)(1) and (2) limit the grant of coram nobis relief to a petitioner whose motion for section 2255 relief was denied while he was still in custody. In this case, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's post conviction motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence under 28 U.S.C. 2255. Petitioner was convicted of conspiracy to import machine guns from Eastern Europe by submitting forms with false entries to the ATF and sentenced to sixty months in prison and three years of supervised release. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by concluding that there was no fundamental error in petitioner's case that warranted issue of the writ. View "Baranski v. United States" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's imposition of a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) after defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm as a previously convicted felony. The court held that defendant's prior conviction for second-degree assault under Mo. Rev. Stat. 565.060.1(5) was a prior felony conviction for a "crime of violence" under the guidelines. Consistent with Voisine v. U.S., 136 S. Ct 2272 (2016), and U.S. v. Fogg, 836 F.3d 951 (8th Cir. 2016), the court held that reckless conduct causing injury to another by use of a firearm constitutes a use of force under the guidelines. View "United States v. Ramey" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for charges related to his involvement in a scheme to defraud TierOne Bank's shareholders and to mislead its regulators by concealing millions of dollars in losses related to the failure of certain real estate loans. The court held that the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal, because the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant possessed the knowledge and intent required to sustain his convictions; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for a bill of particulars where the government's disclosures were sufficient to enable defendant to understand the nature of the charges against him, prepare a defense, and avoid any surprise; the court rejected defendant's evidentiary challenges; and the district court properly declined to issue defendant's requested jury instructions. The court also held that the district court did not clearly err in adopting the loss calculation methodology set forth in the Sentencing Guidelines; the district court did not err in applying a 4-level leadership enhancement under USSG 3B1.1(a); and defendant's sentence was substantively reasonable. Finally, the district court did not err in its calculation of the restitution award. View "United States v. Lundstrom" on Justia Law