Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's second motion to vacate his mandatory minimum fifteen-year sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA). The court held that the new rule in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), had no nexus to this claim. Furthermore, neither Mathis v. United States, 136 S. Ct. 2243 (2016), and Descamps v. United States, 570 U.S. 254 (2013), announced a new rule of law, made retroactive to cases on collateral review by the Supreme Court. Finally, in denying petitioner's first 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion, the district court held that his three class C felony burglary convictions fell within the ACCA's enumerated offenses clause and thus he could not raise these claims again. View "Winarske v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his sentence after pleading guilty to aiding and abetting second degree murder. The Eighth Circuit held that the government did not breach the plea agreement when it recommended a sentence within the agreed-upon range. Furthermore, the government's statement that it adopted the amended presentence investigation report that included an enhancement for obstruction of justice did not breach the plea agreement. The court held that defendant's remaining claims fell within the scope of the appeal waiver. Finally, even if the court considered the merits of defendant's alleged procedural and substantive sentencing errors, the court would affirm the district court's judgment. In this case, the district court considered the sentencing factors, issued a within-Guidelines sentence that was presumptively reasonable, and did not abuse its discretion. View "United States v. St. Pierre" 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 wiretaps after he pleaded guilty to drug-related offenses. The court held that the district court did not err in granting the wiretap applications without preauthorization from the Nebraska Attorney General. The court also held that, under Nebraska law, wiretap applications do not need to be sworn under oath before submission to the Nebraska Attorney General and there was no requirement that wiretap applications be submitted to the Attorney General by the principal county attorney. The court also held that the district court did not err in finding probable cause to wiretap defendant's co-conspirators; the district court did not err in finding the probable-cause information was not stale, because the criminal activity was continuous and ongoing; and the district court did not err in finding the wiretaps were necessary, and defendant had actual notice of the wiretaps within the 90-day period set out in Nebraska law. View "United States v. Terrell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of ammunition as a previously convicted felon. The court held that defendant's prior Missouri drug convictions qualified as serious drug offenses under the Armed Career Criminal Act and he therefore had three prior qualifying convictions to be sentenced as an armed career criminal. The court explained that United States v. Bynum, 669 F.3d 880 (8th Cir. 2012), held that a knowing offer to sell drugs in Minnesota is a crime "involving" the distribution of drugs, because it is "related to or connected with" drug distribution. View "United States v. Hill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's application of the concurrent sentence doctrine to petitioner and denial of 28 U.S.C. 2255 relief. The court held that sentencing petitioner as an armed career criminal on the firearm count had no impact on his advisory guidelines range for the drug trafficking charge, and his 220 month sentence was 40 months above the Armed Career Criminal Act's mandatory 180-month minimum. In this case, petitioner did not appeal his convictions and sentences for concurrent 220 month prison terms, and the district court did not err in denying the successive habeas motion under the concurrent sentence doctrine. Furthermore, the court noted that the collateral consequences petitioner claimed was more than highly speculative where they were entirely within his control to avoid. View "Eason v. United States" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant was convicted of three counts relating to a conspiracy to distribute human growth hormone (HGH) for unauthorized purposes and to smuggle HGH into the United States. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's decision to admit evidence of a 1998 conviction at trial and defendant's 40 month sentence. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting the 1998 conviction because it was used to prove intent and knowledge and was well supported by evidence; by applying a sophisticated means enhancement under USSG 2T3.1(b)(1); and by imposing a sentence above the advisory guidelines range and sufficiently explaining why defendant's understated criminal history justified an upward departure to 40 months. View "United States v. Patino" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to domestic assault by an habitual offender. The court held that defendant's sentence was not procedurally unreasonable, because the district court sufficiently explained that its decision to depart upward because defendant's criminal history category substantially underrepresented the seriousness of his criminal history. Furthermore, there was no error, much less plain error, in the district court's comments lamenting the prevalence of domestic violence on the Standing Rock reservation and surmising that defendant may have committed other acts of domestic violence where such crimes often go unreported. Finally, defendant's sentence was not substantively unreasonable where the district court imposed a well-supported, fully explained USSG 4A1.3 upward departure and then varied slightly downward from the revised advisory guidelines. View "United States v. Charles Eagle Pipe" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for various crimes related to stealing funds from a medical practice while working as a bookkeeper. The court held that the district court did not err by excluding potentially exculpatory evidence regarding the medical practice's destruction of financial records where the records were of limited probative value and the destruction of the documents also had limited probative value. View "United States v. Espejo" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence for producing child pornography. The Eighth Circuit held that the district court did not err in denying defendant's request for an instruction on the lesser-included offense of possession of child pornography; the district court did not abuse its discretion when it denied defendant's motion for a mistrial where the prosecutor told the jury in closing argument that the jury was the "voice" for the victim, because the improper comments were not so prejudicial as to deprive defendant of a fair trial; but the district court erred by imposing an obstruction of justice enhancement under USSC 3C1.1. Accordingly, the court remanded for resentencing. View "United States v. Gomez-Diaz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for wire fraud, filing for bankruptcy for the purpose of executing a scheme to defraud, and making false statements in relation to bankruptcy proceedings. The court rejected defendant's contention that the district court erred in denying his pretrial motion to sever the wire fraud counts from the bankruptcy-related counts, and held that joinder was appropriate here because the offenses were all connected to the common scheme. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to sever counts for trial under Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 14; the convictions were supported by sufficient evidence; the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's post-trial motions to continue sentence and dismiss the superseding indictment; and the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing sentencing enhancements for the amount of loss, use of sophisticated means, and abuse of a position of trust. View "United States v. Reichel" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law