United States v. Carlos Saul Becerra (5th Cir. October 2020)

The Federal Docket

Sentencing Guidelines – A 10-year absolute ban on computer use and internet access as a special condition of supervised release without accommodation for scope or duration is unreasonable.

Carlos Saul Becerra was convicted and sentenced to 151 months imprisonment followed by 10 years’ supervised release for child pornography violations under 18 U.S.C. § 2252.  Upon search of Becerra’s residence, FBI agents found 11,205 photographs and 538 videos of child pornography on Becerra’s seized electronic devices.  The special condition of supervised release restricted Becerra’s possession or use of any electronic devices and access to the Internet.

The Court reviewed Becerra’s challenge to the special condition of supervised release as being overbroad under plain error review.  The Court held that an absolute restriction on computer use and internet access for ten years following a 12.5-year sentence was not narrowly tailored by scope or duration.  The Court held that an absolute ban not exceeding 3-5 years or permitting access upon prior approval by probation or the court would narrow the restriction to ensure no greater deprivation than necessary.  The Court vacated the special conditions of supervised release and remanded for resentencing.

Appeal from the Western District of Texas

Per Curiam Opinion before King, Stewart and Southwick.

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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