Justia Criminal Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, holding that the district court did not err in denying Defendant's motion to suppress the confession he made during the second phase of his custodial interrogation. In support of his motion to suppress Defendant argued that the interrogation violated his Fifth Amendment rights as set forth in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), and Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981). The district court denied the motion, finding that Defendant initiated the second phase of the interview, that Defendant did not thereafter reinvade his right to counsel, and that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his Miranda rights before confessing. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that Defendant's confession was admissible at trial for all of the reasons determined by the district court. View "United States v. Carpentino" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit reversed Defendant's conviction, holding that the district court erred in denying Defendant's motion to suppress seized evidence because law enforcement officers' warrantless entry into the house where Defendant was living, on the grounds that exigent circumstances existed, was unconstitutional, and there was no evidence demonstrating a different exception to the warrant requirement applied. Defendant was convicted of sixteen counts of production of child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography involving prepubescent minors. Defendant appealed the denial of his motion to suppress, arguing that the warrantless entry into his mother's house, where he was living, was presumptively unreasonable and that no exception to the warrant requirement existed. The First Circuit agreed and remanded the case to the district court to determine whether consent to the entry was given, holding that entry into the home on the basis of exigency was unconstitutional and could not serve as justification for the search and seizure that followed. View "United States v. Rodriguez-Pacheco" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence imposed in connection with his plea of guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and possession with intent to distribute the same, holding that a defendant's potential future deportation is a factor that a sentencing court may consider under 18 U.S.C. 3553(a). By the time of sentencing, a detainer had been filed against Defendant with an eye toward subsequent deportation. Defendant requested that the sentencing court consider his future deportation and the possibility of a downward variance on that basis. The district court determined that it would not give weight to Defendant's potential deportation when fashioning Defendant's sentence. The court then imposed an eighty-seven-month term of immurement. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) under appropriate circumstances, a defendant's potential deportation may properly be considered pursuant to section 3553(a)(1); and (2) the court did not abuse its discretion in determining that it would not give weight to Defendant's potential future deportation. View "United States v. Hercules" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed in connection with Defendant's plea of guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, holding that Defendant's appeal waiver barred this appeal. Defendant pled guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. The district court sentenced Defendant to thirty-seven months' imprisonment and ordered that the sentence run consecutively to a seven-year sentence Defendant had previously received for an unrelated state drug offense. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred by imposing a consecutive, rather than a concurrent, sentence. The government argued that Defendant's appeal was barred because, as part of his guilty plea, he expressly waived his right to appeal. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that enforcement of the appeal waiver did not result in a miscarriage of justice. View "United States v. Santiago" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the sentence imposed by the district court in connection with Defendant's plea of guilty to a single count charging him with drug distribution in violation of 21 U.S.C. 841(a)(1), holding that the sentence was supportable when viewed as an upward variance. Relying on a finding that a death resulted from the offense of conviction in this case, the district court imposed an above-the-range term of imprisonment. The court justified the sentence both as an upward departure and an upward variance. On appeal, Defendant challenged his sixty-month sentence both procedurally and substantively. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) any error in invoking a departure guideline was harmless where the district court would have imposed exactly the same sentence by means of a variance; (2) the district court did not abuse its discretion by considering in its decision to impose an upward variance the fact that an individual died after using the fentanyl-laced substance knowingly sold to him by Defendant; and (3) the sentence was not outside the universe of reasonable sentencing outcomes and therefore was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Heindenstrom" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's convictions and dismissed without prejudice Defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on her allegations of error. Defendant was convicted of twelve counts of making a materially false statement to a federal agency. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that she received ineffective assistance of trial counsel. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendant's convictions were supported by sufficient evidence; (2) Defendant was not denied her federal constitutional right to be present at any stage of the criminal proceeding; (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion in providing a so-called "nullification instruction" to the jury; (4) Defendant waived a duplicity challenge to certain counts; and (5) the record was not sufficiently developed to permit appellate consideration of Defendant's ineffective assistance of counsel claim. View "United States v. Brown" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence imposed in connection with his guilty plea and conviction on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. Defendant was convicted on charges of bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The district court sentenced Defendant to thirty-six months of imprisonment and four years of supervised release. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not commit procedural errors in calculating Defendant's Guidelines sentencing range; and (2) Defendant's challenge to the substantive reasonableness of her sentence was unavailing. View "United States v. Jimenez" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's sentence of 240 months' imprisonment imposed in connection with his guilty plea to one count of possession of child pornography and one count of accessing child pornography with intent to view, holding that the sentence was neither procedurally nor substantively unreasonable. The district court sentenced Defendant to the statutory maximum sentence on each count, to be served concurrently. The First Circuit affirmed the sentence, holding (1) the district court did not err in applying enhancements given for a pattern of activity involving the sexual abuse of minors and for obstruction of justice; (2) the acceptance of responsibility reduction was properly denied; and (3) the district court's imposition of the statutory maximum sentence was substantively reasonable. View "United States v. Coffin" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed Defendant's conviction of drug trafficking charges, including conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, and Defendant's sentence of 136 months in prison, holding that no reversible error occurred in the proceedings below. Pursuant to a search warrant, federal agents searched Defendant's apartment and found a stolen gun, more than $30,000 in cash, more than a kilo of heroin, and other narcotics and drug paraphernalia. Defendant pleaded guilty to several drug trafficking charges. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the trial judge did not err by (1) denying Defendant's motion to suppress the evidence from his apartment; (2) denying Defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea; (3) deciding not to appoint new counsel and to let Defendant handle his sentencing pro se; and (4) failing to set a lower guideline sentencing range. View "United States v. Gonzalez-Arias" on Justia Law

by
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court denying the motions to suppress filed by Defendants Cuwan Merritt and Michael Artis, the district court's ruling admitting co-conspirator statements under Fed. R. Evid. 801(d)(2)(E) and 403 and United States v. Petrozziello, 548 F.2d 20 (1st Cir. 1977), and Defendants' convictions of possession with intent to distribute cocaine base, holding that Defendants were not entitled to relief. In denying Defendants' motions to suppress drugs found on each Defendant the trial court found that police had probable cause to stop an automobile in which Defendants were known to be traveling with two confidential informants. The First Circuit affirmed, holding (1) Defendants failed to show that the police lacked probable cause to arrest them before a vehicle stop; and (2) the district court properly admitted the out-of-court statements made by a co-conspirator. View "United States v. Merritt" on Justia Law