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Showing posts from September, 2016

No Requirement of Actual Harm for Vulnerable Victim Enhancement

In United States v. Adeolu, No. 14-3610, 2016 WL 4728003, the Circuit affirmed Adeolu’s sentence, holding that the vulnerable victim enhancement at U.S.S.G. § 3A1.1(b)(1), does not require actual harm to the victim, only a nexus between the victim’s vulnerabilty and the crime’s success.
     Adeolu, a tax preparer, prepared fraudulent tax returns by having his clients claim false dependents.  Adeolu was ultimately convicted of conspiracy to defraud and aiding and abetting the preparation of materially false tax returns (18 U.S.C. § 371 and 26 U.S.C. § 7206(2)).  At sentencing, the court applied the vulnerable victim sentencing enhancement set forth in § 3A1.1(b)(1) based on Adeolu's use of young children's personal information. On appeal, Adeolu argued that the children were not vulnerable victims because they did not experience “actual” harm.
     In rejecting the actual harm requirement, the Circuit states that any issue regarding harm is encompassed within the analysi…

Repeat and Dangerous Sex Offender Guideline / Categorical Approach

In United States v. Dahl, No. 15-2271 (3d Cir., Aug. 17, 2016), the district court committed plain error by failing to apply the categorical approach in determining whether Dahl’s Delaware first- and third-degree unlawful sexual contact convictions constitute federal sex offense convictions under the federal repeat offender statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2426(b)(1)(B), and therefore subjected him to an increased sentence under the career sexual offender guideline embodied at U.S.S.G. § 4B1.5. Section 2426(b)(1)(B) refers to a “conviction for an offense . . . consisting of conduct that would have been an offense” under certain federal statutes, and § 4B1.5 refers to a “sex offense conviction” as “any offense [under 18 U.S.C. § 2426(b)(1)(B)], if the offense was perpetrated against a minor.” However, the Supreme Court’s decisions in Descamps, Johnson, Mathis, and Nijhawan v. Holder, 557 U.S. 29 (2009) demonstrate that the factual inquiry triggered by the qualifying language in the statute is limi…

Collateral Attack of Sentence Not Permitted at Supervised Release Revocation Hearing

In United States v. Jones, No. 15-1636 (3d Cir., Aug.17, 2016), Defendant sought to challenge the classification of his underlying conviction during his supervised release revocation hearing. Specifically, Defendant attempted to argue that, in light of Johnson v. United States, 559 U.S. 133 (2010) and Johnson v. United States, 135 S.Ct. 2551 (2015), his ACCA conviction should be graded as a Class C felony instead of a Class A felony. The Third Circuit rejected Defendant’s argument in short order, by announcing that it was joining several of its sister circuits who have ruled that the validity of an underlying conviction may not be collaterally attacked in a supervised release revocation proceeding. Such challenges may only be raised on direct appeal or through a habeas corpus proceeding. The Third Circuit rejected Defendant’s claim that he sought only to challenge the decision rendered by the district court during the present revocation hearing. The Court concluded that, as the unde…