Articles Posted in Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit dismissed defendant's motion requesting a judicial recommendation to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) for placement in a residential re-entry center (RRC) 12 months prior to the end of his sentence. Defendant contended that a prolonged placement at an RRC would help aid his re-integration into society. The court held that the denial of a request for a judicial recommendation was not a final order subject to appellate review. Moreover, the relief requested, if granted, would violate the prohibition on federal courts issuing non-binding advisory opinions. View "United States v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of defendant's renewed motion for a sentence reduction under 18 U.S.C. 3582(c)(2), holding that the district court had authority to entertain defendant's renewed motion but did not err in denying it. In this case, the district court found that defendant's life sentence was sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to address the 18 U.S.C 3553(a) factors. The district court clearly and thoroughly explained that life imprisonment remained an appropriate sentence based on the serious and heinous nature of defendant's crimes, the need for adequate deterrence, and the need to protect the public from future crimes. View "United States v. Caraballo-Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Defendants were convicted of conspiracy to distribute at least five kilograms of a substance containing cocaine while on board a covered vessel, and possession with intent to distribute at least five kilograms of a substance containing cocaine. Defendant Williams was also convicted of failure to heave to and the remaining defendants were convicted of aiding and abetting Williams' failure to heave to. The Eighth Circuit affirmed each defendant's drug convictions and Williams's failure-to-heave-to conviction. However, the court reversed the remaining defendants' aiding and abetting failure-to-heave-to convictions for lack of evidence. View "United States v. Williams" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendants' convictions under the Maritime Drug Law Enforcement Act (MDLEA), which criminalizes an individual's possessing with intent to distribute a controlled substance while on board a covered vessel. The court held that defendants' ship fit within the MDLEA's broad definition of a "vessel without nationality" because a designee of the U.S. Secretary of State has certified, and thereby "proved conclusively," that Guatemala had not "affirmatively and unequivocally" asserted that the ship was of Guatemalan nationality. The court explained that, under the clear terms of the MDLEA, that certification put the crime within the territorial coverage of the statutory prohibition, and the executive branch thereby effectively assumed responsibility for any diplomatic consequences of the criminal prosecution. The court held that defendant's remaining arguments were without merit. View "United States v. Lopez Hernandez" on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for possession and transportation of child pornography. The court held that the evidence was sufficient for the jury to find that venue was proper in the Middle District of Florida as to the possession count, and the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion for judgment of acquittal; the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to dismiss the possession count for improper venue; and the district court did not err by denying defendant's motion to sever the possession count from the transportation count. View "United States v. Little" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence of 48 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The court held that defendant's prior Florida conviction for felony fleeing to elude remained a crime of violence under USSG 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) at the time he was sentenced. View "United States v. Martin" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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A firearm may be counted under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1) if state law prohibited defendant from possessing it, even if federal law did not. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's within-Guidelines sentence of 80 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon. The court held that the district court did not err by applying a four-level sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(b)(1)(B) for the unlawful possession of a firearm because the offense involved eight to twenty-four firearms. The court explained that, by its terms, application note 5 to section 2K2.1 requires only that defendant's possession of each pistol be "unlawful," not that it be unlawful under federal law. In this case, Florida law clearly prohibited defendant from possessing the eighth firearm. View "United States v. Gill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's denial of petitioner's 28 U.S.C. 2254 petition for writ of habeas corpus. The court held that the district court erred by conducting de novo review. The state court's denial of petitioner's Brady claim was entitled to deference under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 and the state court's denial was neither an unreasonable determination of the facts nor an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law. View "Rimmer v. Secretary, FL Department of Corrections" on Justia Law

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Defendant pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and an armed career criminal and was sentenced in 2010. In 2011, a Florida court sentenced defendant for robbery and kidnappingn offenses. In 2016, the district court vacated defendant's federal sentence and conducted a full resentence. The district court added three criminal history points for defendant's 2011 Florida sentence because it was a "prior sentence" when the district court sentenced him. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed and held that when a court vacates a sentence, that sentence becomes void in its entirety, so the term "prior sentence" includes a state sentence imposed before resentencing. The court also held that circuit precedent foreclosed defendant's request to vacate his sentence on the ground that another of his prior convictions, for Florida armed robbery in 1999, was not a crime of violence. View "United States v. Burke" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Eleventh Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence after he pleaded guilty to five counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and drug-related offenses. The court held that defendant's prior Florida conviction of principal to attempted manufacture of a controlled substance, Fla. Stat. 777.011, qualified as a controlled substance offense under USSG 4B1.2(b). The court also held that defendant failed to prove that the government engaged in sentencing factor manipulation when it arranged multiple transactions in a sting operation. View "United States v. Lange" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law