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May 19, 2022

Enhancement harmless where court would’ve reached same result  

Even if a district court erred by increasing a defendant’s offense level based on the possession of a firearm “in connection with” another felony offense, the error is harmless where the court would have reached the same result had it sided with the defendant on the sentencing guideline issue, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of […]

May 23, 2012

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – ‘Vulnerable Victim’

U.S. v. Etoty A defendant who, from a Florida jail, appropriated a social security number and identity belonging to a disabled woman in Florida, has her sentence for social security fraud and aggravated identity theft increased under the sentencing guidelines’ “vulnerable victim” enhancement, in this decision from the 4th Circuit.

Dec 15, 2011

Criminal Practice – Bank Robbery – Sentencing – Enhancement – Physical Restraint

U.S. v. Dimache A defendant who used a gun when he ordered two bank tellers to the floor as he and another robber fled the bank gets a two-level sentence enhancement for physical restraint to facilitate escape, and the 4th Circuit upholds defendant’s 90-month sentence.

Nov 23, 2011

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – Prior Conviction – Sexual Abuse

U.S. v. Spence The 4th Circuit upholds an enhanced sentence for a defendant convicted of possession of child pornography, based on his prior conviction under S.C. common law for “assault and battery of a high aggravated nature”; the district court did not err in holding that the prior conviction qualified as a predicate offense under the sexual abuse enhancement under 18 U.S.C. § 225[...]

Nov 10, 2011

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – Perjury – Insufficient Findings

U.S. v. Perez In order to enhance a defendant’s sentence for obstruction of justice based on perjury, the sentencing court must make findings to clearly establish that a defendant gave false testimony on a material matter with willful intent to deceive. Because the trial court here failed to make the necessary findings, defendant’s enhanced sentence is reversed.

Aug 24, 2011

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Drug Trafficking – Enhancement – Prior State Conviction – Marijuana Possession

U.S. v. Simmons The en banc 4th Circuit vacates a North Carolina defendant’s federal drug trafficking sentence that was enhanced because of a prior state conviction for marijuana possession, in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision from last year that casts doubt on the practice of treating minor state crimes as serious felonies.

Feb 23, 2011

Criminal Practice – Sentencing – Enhancement – ‘Offense’ – N.C. State Conviction

U.S. v. Simmons. (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-042-11, 14 pp.) (Agee, J.) No. 08-4475, Feb. 16, 2011; On Remand from USSC. 4th Cir. Click here for the full text of the opinion. Holding: On remand from the U.S. Supreme Court, the 4th Circuit stands by its earlier unpublished opinion and affirms the district court’s use of […]

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