Sentencing Guidelines

United States v. Willie Evans (11th Cir. May 2020)

The Court affirmed the district court's finding that officers' warrantless search of a home was justified under the "emergency aid exception." The Court held that the officers had a reasonable belief that a dog's whimpering inside the house was a human in need of emergency aid based on their initially responding to a 911 regarding gun shots, the defendant's belligerent behavior prior to his arrest, and the officers' belief that someone else may have been in the house.

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United States v. Jarred Goldman (11th Cir. March 2020)

Where the defendants stole and later destroyed a rare gold bar recovered from a sunken treasure ship, the Court held that in cases involving a unique item or an item that has no market for it, the proper figure to calculate restitution is the "replacement cost" of the item rather than its mere fair market value, which in this case would have been the bar's weight in gold. However, the district court erred in adopting the victim-museum's arbitrarily defined value of the gold bar for restitution purposes.

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United States v. Marlon Eason, et al. (11th Cir. March 2020)

Joining several other circuits, the Eleventh Circuit held that a conviction for Hobbs Act robbery does not qualify as a "crime of violence" for the sentencing enhancement under either the elements clause of U.S.S.G. § 4B1.2(a) or as an enumerated robbery or extortion offense, as a defendant can be convicted of Hobbs Act robbery based merely on a threat to property.

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United States v. Rodolfo Rodriguez-Leos (5th Cir. March 2020)

Sentencing Guidelines

The defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of ammunition by a person admitted to the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa. Law enforcement had witnessed the defendant purchasing ammunition and leaving it in locations to be picked up and eventually smuggled into Mexico. At sentencing, the district court applied the enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1(b)(6)(A) based on the defendant’s intent to transport the ammunition out of the U.S. Since the ammunition was possessed in connection with another offense, exporting the ammunition without a valid export license, § 2K2.1(c)(1) directed the court to cross reference to § 2X1.1 (Attempt, Solicitation, or Conspiracy).

The district court declined to apply the three-level reduction under § 2X1.1(b)(1), which applies when the offense constitutes a mere attempt, based on the PSR’s assertion that the defendant had “completed all the acts necessary and, but for the apprehension, was able to complete all the acts.”

On appeal, the Court reversed, holding that the district court had committed clear error. First, the Court held that the defendant’s written objection to the PSR was sufficient to preserve his claim on appeal, despite the defendant citing the incorrect subsection. The Court then held that the defendant had not “completed all the acts necessary given the lack of evidence that he knew the guns were being smuggled and the fact that he was apprehended “well before” he and his co-conspirators had completed the acts necessary for exporting the ammunition without a license.

Appeal from the Southern District of Texas

Opinion by Dennis, joined by Graves and Willett

Click here to read the opinion.

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