Sentencing

The Federal Docket

Sentencing Commission Releases Comprehensive Report on “Organizational Sentencing Guidelines”

Last month, the U.S. Sentencing Commission published a new report titled “The Organizational Sentencing Guidelines: Thirty Years of Innovation and Influence,” summarizing hte history and development of Chapter 8 of the U.S. Guidelines, which apply to defendant-corporations and other defendant-entities.

United States v. Rivera-Ruiz (1st Cir. August 2022)

The First Circuit vacated the sentence of a former police officer convicted of RICO conspiracy. The Court held that the district court erred in considering the PSR’s mere mentioning of the defendant’s prior administrative complaints, without more to substantiate them, as a basis for an upwards variance from the Guidelines.

United States v. Fields (6th Cir. August 2022)

The Sixth Circuit vacated a defendant’s sentence that had been enhanced under 21 USC 841(b)(1)(A)(viii) based on his prior convictions. The Court held that the defendant’s meth conviction under Kentucky state law was not a “serious drug offense” or “serious drug felony” since his statute of conviction encompassed more than manufacturing conduct.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases Report on Sentencing Trends in Federal Robbery Cases

Last week, the U.S. Sentencing Commission published a new study on defendants sentenced on federal robbery charges in 2021. The report provides a comprehensive look at the demographics and other characteristics of robbery offenders, as well as well as their ranges of prior criminal history and the types of sentences imposed. Notably, the report also identifies characteristics of the robbery offense itself such as the identity of the victim, the type of property taken, whether violence was used or threatened, whether a weapon was involved, and whether the victim was injured or killed.

United States v. Chappelle (7th Cir. July 2022)

Joining seven other circuits, the Second Circuit held that Hobbs Act robbery is not a “crime of violence” under the Guidelines for Career Offender, USSG 4B1.2(a), because the offense can be applied to conduct involving only violence against property, not against other people. The Court also upheld the district court’s finding that Application Note 1 to 4B1.2, which states that conspiracy to commit a crime of violence is a “crime of violence,” was not binding because the note is inconsistent with the text of 4B1.2 itself, which does not include conspiracy as one of the predicate offenses for career offender.

Senate Confirms Full Slate of Commissioners for the U.S. Sentencing Commission

For the first time since 2019, the U.S. Sentencing Commission will have a quorum of members and the ability to promulgate new guidelines and regulations for federal sentencing. The Commission’s newest members were approved by the U.S. Senate by voice vote on August 4, 2022. Click here to read our previous coverage of the newest appointees to the Commission.

United States v. Stowell (8th Cir. July 2022)

The Eighth Circuit affirmed a defendant’s enhanced sentence under the ACCA where two of the defendant’s three predicate offenses had been charged in the same indictment and occurred 3 days apart and with separate victims. The Court concluded that the Supreme Court’s decision in Woodson did not mean these prior offenses were not conducted “on occasions different from one another,” and rejected the defendant’s Sixth Amendment challenge.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases Two New Reports: Life Sentences in the Federal System & Older Offenders in the Federal System

The U.S. Sentencing Commission released two new reports regarding offenders serving life sentences in federal prison and older offenders sentenced in federal court. The reports include a substantial amount of data regarding the types of offenders sentenced to life imprisonment or “de facto” life imprisonment. The reports also illustrate the differences in how older offenders are sentenced compared to younger offenders, as well as other characteristics of older offenders.

United States v. Shaw (7th Cir. July 2022)

The Seventh Circuit vacated a defendant’s above-Guidelines prison sentence imposed upon his violation of supervised release. The Court concluded that the record showed the sentencing judge had improperly sentenced Shaw to prison for the purpose of rehabilitation, which is explicitly prohibited under 18 USC 3582(a).

U.S. Sentencing Commission Releases Report: “What Do Federal Firearm Offenses Really Look Like?

This month, the Sentencing Commission released a new report regarding federal firearm offenses. The report primarily looks at the kinds of sentences imposed on firearm offenders, including the Guidelines for more firearm offenses under USSG 2K2.1. The report includes data on recidivism rates, penalties, offender demographics, propensity for violence, etc.

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