Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 12 month and 1 day sentence and his special condition of release requiring him to attend a treatment program for anger control/domestic violence based on a ten-year old conviction for terroristic threats. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying a sentence reduction under USSG 2K2.1(b)(2) where the only evidence at sentencing to arguably support a sporting-use reduction related to defendant's firearm offense was that he enjoys hunting, fishing, and competing in gun competitions. However, defendant failed to present any evidence that the firearms he possessed were actually used for those purposes. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the special condition of supervised release where there was sufficient basis in the record to support the condition. View "United States v. Moore" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by admitting gang-related evidence to establish why officers were present, the steps they took, and the reasoning that they had. The evidence also established defendant's motive and intent. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to establish that defendant knowingly possessed the firearm. View "United States v. Gaines" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
After the Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence for abusive sexual contact, the district court sua sponte scheduled a restitution hearing and subsequently ordered defendant to pay $14,967.47 in restitution for the minor victim's medical expenses. The court affirmed the district court's restitution order, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding restitution where defendant had notice and any delay did not prejudice him; the district court did not clearly err in determining defendant owed the full amount of restitution requested where his actions were the proximate cause of the victim's medical costs; the district court sensibly directed defendant and the probation office to develop a suitable schedule of payments when he was released; and the district court did not abuse its discretion or clearly err in determining defendant's economic circumstances. View "United States v. Thunderhawk" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
Petitioner, a native and citizen of Mexico, challenged the BIA's decision affirming the IJ's finding that he was not eligible for cancellation of removal or voluntary departure because he had a prior criminal conviction for a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT). The Eighth Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the BIA did not err by affirming the IJ's finding that petitioner had a conviction for Aggravated Forgery and that he was ineligible for cancellation of removal. The court held that petitioner's probation, community service, and fines constitute court-imposed penalties under 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(48). View "Mendoza-Saenz v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's 120 month sentence after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of ammunition. The court held that the district court properly chose not to rule on defendant's objections to the presentencing report because the objected-to material did not affect sentencing; the district court did not abuse its discretion by imposing a consecutive sentence; the district court did not procedurally err because it referenced 18 U.S.C. 3553(a) factors and the considerations in USSG 5G1.3, comment 4; and defendant's within-Guidelines range was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Peterson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for knowingly possessing a firearm. The court held that there was evidence sufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, circumstantial evidence demonstrated that defendant had constructive possession of the guns. Furthermore, circumstantial evidence of constructive possession and testimony about prior specific instances where defendant handled the firearms were ways for the government to present sufficient evidence of knowing possession. View "United States v. McIntosh" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that officers had probable cause to arrest defendant where, among other things, they had received detailed and consistent reports from two witnesses regarding defendant's violent conduct; there was no clear error in determining that defendant came to stand in the doorway of his trailer residence voluntarily; and thus defendant's Fourth Amendment rights were not violated when the officers first sought to arrest him. The court also held that defendant could not thwart his proper arrest by retreating into his home where the officers had a legitimate concern for their safety which constituted an exigent circumstance and justified a warrantless entry. Finally, the shotgun in plain view matched the description that had been provided and could be used as the basis for a search warrant. View "United States v. Council" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of defendant's motion to discharge a restitution obligation resulting from defendant's involvement in a fraud scheme as the owner of a life insurance company. The court held that the time limit on criminal appeals was a claims-processing rule so even if the prior panel mistakenly applied the rule governing civil appeals, there was no bar to the court's consideration of the current appeal. The court concluded that the district court correctly denied defendant's motion on the merits because the Mandatory Victims Restitution Act, 18 U.S.C. 3663A(c)(1)(A)(ii), did not provide authority to reduce the amount of a restitution obligation to match the value of a negotiated settlement with the victim in civil proceedings. Consequently, the district court did not have authority to grant defendant's request to deem the restitution obligation discharged if he paid the negotiated settlement. The district court, however, did not foreclose defendant from seeking relief under section 3664(j)(2)(B) upon a proper showing, and neither did the court. View "United States v. Whitbeck" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's convictions for three crimes related to the manufacture of methamphetamine. Even assuming that the district court improperly excluded defendant's proposed post-indictment prescription evidence for pseudoephedrine and she adequately preserved and presented her constitutional argument to the district court, the Eighth Circuit held that the exclusion of that evidence did not affect her substantial rights or materially influence the verdict. In this case, evidence of defendant's guilt was overwhelming. The court explained that, though largely contradicted by the balance of the medical evidence, defendant was still able to present her defense that she legitimately bought use quantities of pseudoephedrine to self-treat her COPD during the time at issue. Furthermore, the exclusion of that evidence did not deprive her of a meaningful opportunity to present a complete defense. View "United States v. Davis" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that the short time period before trial and the concern for efficiency in presenting evidence supported the district court's decision to combine the evidentiary hearing with defendant's bench trial, and to defer ruling on the motion to suppress until all evidence had been presented; there was no structural error undermining the fairness of the criminal proceeding as a whole; no constitutional error occurred when the district court considered defendant's suppression testimony for the purpose of determining his guilt where, at no point either before or during his testimony, did defendant or his attorney explicitly request his testimony be limited only to the motion to suppress; and the district court properly denied defendant's motion to suppress the evidence where defendant consented to a search, and did not abuse its discretion in denying his motion for a new trial. View "United States v. Hardison" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law