Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of ninety-five-month incarcerate terms on each of sixty-three bank fraud counts and sixty-month incarcerate terms on the two remaining counts of which Defendant was convicted, with all sentences to run concurrently, and the order of restitution in the amount of $815,496.27, holding that Defendant's sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively flawed. Defendant pleaded guilty to sixty-three counts of bank fraud, one counts of use of an unauthorized device, and one count of tax evasion. The district court found that the government had shown by a preponderance of the evidence that Defendant had attempted to obstruct justice for his feigned incompetency and, therefore, an obstruction-of-justice enhancement was appropriate. The enhancement supported an upward offense-level adjustment under U.S.S.G. 3C1.1. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in applying the obstruction-of-justice enhancement on the basis of Defendant's feigned incompetency; and (2) the court did not err in refusing the shrink Defendant's offense level for acceptance of responsibility. View "United States v. Nygren" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions of violating the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (VICAR) statute, a statute banning the use or carry of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and other gang-related crimes, holding that Defendants were not entitled to reversal of their convictions. Defendants, "La ONU" gangbangers, were convicted of helping murder a "La Rompe ONU" gangbanger and other crimes. Defendants later filed a motion for a new trial, claiming newly-discovered evidence on allegations that the gangbanger died at the hands of La Rompe, not La ONU. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the trial judge applied the correct legal standard and that there was no abuse of discretion in denying Defendant's motion for a new trial. View "United States v. Laureano-Salgado" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendants' convictions of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; aiding and abetting violent crimes in aid of racketeering, namely murder or attempted murder under Puerto Rico law; conspiring to engage in drug trafficking; and other offenses, holding that Defendant's challenges to their convictions were unavailing. The three defendants in this case were members of a vicious Puerto Rican gang called La ONU. Defendants appealed their convictions, bringing a variety of claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in denying a motion to suppress a cache of guns and drugs seized during a warrantless search of a house; (2) the judge did not err in finding that no courtroom closure occurred during the proceedings; (3) the judge did not err in denying Defendants' motion for a mistrial; and (4) the remainder of Defendants' arguments on appeal did not entitle them to reversal of their convictions. View "United States v. Lanza-Vazquez" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court convicting Defendant of transportation of a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and travel with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct and sentencing him to life imprisonment, holding that the district court did not err or abuse its discretion. Specifically, the Court held (1) the district court did not err in denying Defendant's Fed. R. Crim. P. 29 motion because the evidence was sufficient to support the two convictions; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion in making its evidentiary rulings challenged by Defendant; and (3) the district court did not err in sentencing Defendant. View "United States v. Gaudet" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court sentencing Defendant in connection to her plea of guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access-device fraud, holding that the district court did not err in imposing the sentence that it did. Based on the "profound" disparity between the "loss" as calculated by Defendant's pre-sentence report and the actual "loss" attributed to Defendant's offense based on victim impact statements submitted by various financial institutions, as well as various mitigating factors, the district court exercised its discretion to impose a variant sentence of four months' imprisonment followed by two years of supervised release. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in its calculation of the "loss" attributable to her offense due to what she argued was an incorrect reading of section 2B1.1(b)(1) of the United States Sentencing Guidelines. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly interpreted section 2B1.1(b)(1) in imposing the sentence. View "United States v. Rueda" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed in part and vacated in part the district court's partial denial of Defendant's motion to suppress evidence seized from Defendant's home on the day of his arrest on drug and money laundering charges, holding that the district court properly determined that certain items were lawfully seized but that it could not be determined on the record that other items were lawfully seized. The district court concluded that federal law enforcement agents validly relied on exceptions to the warrant requirement when they searched Defendant's home, a cargo van inside Defendant's garage, and a minivan parked in Defendant's driveway. The First Circuit held (1) the district court correctly determined that certain items were lawfully seized from the first floor; (2) it could not be determined whether items on the second floor and in the cargo van were lawfully seized, and therefore, remand was required for further findings concerning the duration and scope of the purported protective sweep; (3) remand was required for reconsideration of the issue of application of the automobile exception to the cargo van based on the court's conclusions regarding the sweep; and (4) as to items seized from the minivan, remand was necessary for a determination whether the minivan was within the curtilage of Defendant's home. View "United States v. Hernandez-Mieses" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence in connection with Defendant's guilty plea to reentering the United States illegally as a removed alien, holding that his mid-range sentence of forty months' imprisonment and three years of supervised release was both substantively and procedurally reasonable. Defendant pleaded guilty to reentering the United States illegally as a removed alien, in violation of 8 U.S.C. 1326(b)(2). The district court sentenced Defendant to forty months' imprisonment, followed by a supervised release term of three years. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) the district court correctly treated the properly calculated guideline sentencing range as the starting point in determining Defendant's sentence, and the district court properly explained the basis for the sentence; and (2) the sentence was substantively reasonable because the sentencing court gave a plausible sentencing rationale and reached a defensible result. View "United States v. Abreu-Garcia" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendants, the Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts and the Town's chief of police, and dismissing Plaintiff's complaint filed under 42 U.S.C. 1983, holding that Plaintiff could not reasonably have expected privacy in his phone service provider's cell and home phone records. In 2015, the chief of police opened an internal investigation concerning Plaintiff, a police officer with the Town. In 2017, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint alleging that Defendants compelled Plaintiff to turn over his phone records in connection with the investigation and that this constituted an illegal warrantless search in violation of Plaintiff's Fourth Amendment rights. The district court granted summary judgment for Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that a phone subscriber has no reasonable expectation of privacy in the phone service provider's records of the numbers that the subscriber has dialed and from which the subscriber as received calls, and Defendant did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the records simply because he asked for a copy of the records at issue. View "Johnson v. Town of Duxbury, Massachusetts" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of eighty-four months of imprisonment for attempted possession of child pornography, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. Defendant pleaded guilty to the offense of attempted possession of child pornography and admitted that he attempted to take photographs of a naked fourteen-year-old female victim. The district court sentenced Defendant to an upwardly variant sentence of eighty-four months' imprisonment, followed by ten years of supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the district court did not commit procedural error by relying on the government's sentencing memorandum and by crediting the victim's statements; and (2) the facts of this case fully justified the sentence. View "United States v. Montalvo-Febus" on Justia Law

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The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's within-guidelines sentence of eighty-seven months' imprisonment and fifteen years' supervised release for possession of child pornography, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing the sentence. Defendant pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2252A(a)(5)(B) and (b)(2). After a sentencing hearing, the district court imposed a sentence of eighty-seven months' imprisonment and fifteen years' supervised release. On appeal, Defendant challenged both the procedural and substantive reasonableness of his sentence. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant's sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. View "United States v. Hassan-Saleh-Mohamad" on Justia Law