Articles Posted in Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction for providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 2339A, and conspiring and attempting to destroy an aircraft of the United States Armed Forces, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 32. Defendant was convicted for acts associated with an attack on an Afghan Border Police post at Camp Leyza. As a preliminary matter, the court held that it had jurisdiction to determine whether defendant qualified as a POW and was entitled to combatant immunity under the Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, irrespective of Army Regulation 190-8. On the merits, the court held that defendant was not entitled to combatant immunity under the Convention where the conflict in Afghanistan was not an international armed conflict. Consequently, because defendant did not qualify for combatant immunity pursuant to the Third Geneva Convention, he did not qualify for the common law defense of public authority. The court also held that section 32 clearly applied to otherwise lawful military actions committed during armed conflicts. In this case, defendant was convicted of attempting to fire anti-aircraft weapons at U.S. military helicopters, an attack that fell under the plain language of section 32. View "United States v. Hamidullin" on Justia Law

by
Ramirez, a citizen of El Salvador, first entered the U.S. in 1996 at age 17. Nearly 20 years later, Ramirez was placed in removal proceedings, charged with being present without being admitted or paroled under 8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(6)(A)(i). Ramirez applied for special rule cancellation of removal under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA), 111 Stat. 2160, 2196–2199 (1997), which allows certain nationals from designated countries to apply for suspension of deportation or special rule cancellation of removal and adjust their status to permanent residency. To qualify under NACARA, an alien ordinarily must establish at least seven years of continuous presence in the U.S. but an applicant who is inadmissible or removable for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMT) must establish at least 10 years of continuous presence after becoming inadmissible or removable. In 2012, Ramirez was convicted of petit larceny and obstruction of justice. The Board of Immigration Appeals found him ineligible for NACARA relief. The Fourth Circuit vacated the order of removal, holding that obstruction of justice under Virginia law is not a CIMT because it may be committed without fraud, deception, or any other aggravating element that shocks the public conscience. The court directed the government to facilitate Ramirez’s return to the United States to participate in further proceedings. View "Ramirez v. Sessions" on Justia Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction where a reasonable jury could have found that defendant corruptly persuaded the witness to alter his testimony. View "United States v. Edlind" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's conviction of witness tampering, conspiracy to commit witness tampering, and obstruction of justice. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to support defendant's conviction where a reasonable jury could have found that defendant corruptly persuaded the witness to alter his testimony. View "United States v. Edlind" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that defendant was no longer qualified as a sexually dangerous person. In this case, the district court was presented with two plausible theories of the case, both of which were supported by facially credible expert evidence. The court explained that, regardless of whether it would have reached the same conclusion had it been the factfinders, the factual findings of the district court represented a permissible and reasonable interpretation of the evidence presented at the hearing. Accordingly, the court was constrained to affirm the district court's order requiring defendant's release under these circumstances. View "United States v. Wooden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's conclusion that defendant was no longer qualified as a sexually dangerous person. In this case, the district court was presented with two plausible theories of the case, both of which were supported by facially credible expert evidence. The court explained that, regardless of whether it would have reached the same conclusion had it been the factfinders, the factual findings of the district court represented a permissible and reasonable interpretation of the evidence presented at the hearing. Accordingly, the court was constrained to affirm the district court's order requiring defendant's release under these circumstances. View "United States v. Wooden" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of defendant's 28 U.S.C. 2255 motion challenging the lawfulness of his sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) in light of Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015). The court held that defendant's prior conviction for North Carolina assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury was categorically a violent felony under the force clause of the ACCA. View "United States v. Townsend" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit vacated the district court's denial of appellant's savings clause request and dismissal of his 28 U.S.C. 2241 petition. The court held that appellant satisfied the requirements of the savings clause pursuant to its decision in In re Jones, 226 F.3d 328 (4th Cir. 2000), because a retroactive change in the law, occurring after the time for direct appeal and the filing of his first section 2255 motion, rendered his applicable mandatory minimum unduly increased, resulting in a fundamental defect in his sentence. Accordingly, the court remanded with instructions that appellant's section 2241 petition be considered on the merits. View "United States v. Wheeler" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fourth Circuit affirmed Lee Hall and Mark Landersman's convictions for criminal conspiracy and, as to Hall, unlawful conversion of government funds. Hall was the former Director of Intelligence for the Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, and Landersman was a machinist from California. The district court found that Hall facilitated the purchase of hundreds of firearm suppressors from Landersman, Hall's boss’s brother, for over $1.6 million in government funds and that the transaction was illegal. The court explained that, because some of the challenges raised on appeal relied on classified government records, the district court and this court conducted proceedings pursuant to the Classified Information Procedures Act (CIPA), 18 U.S.C. app. 3, 1–16. The court held that the evidence was sufficient to convict defendants and rejected defendants' numerous challenges. Accordingly, the court found no reversible error in the classified and unclassified proceedings. View "United States v. Landersman" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Fifth Circuit vacated defendant's conviction and sentence for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The district court applied a sentencing enhancement under USSG 2K2.1(a)(4)(A) based on defendant's prior conviction under 18 U.S.C. 1959(a)(5) for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering. The court held that conspiracy under section 1959(a)(5) did not require an overt act and was therefore broader than generic conspiracy. Therefore, defendant's section 1959(a)(5) conviction could not support his enhanced sentence because it was not categorically a crime of violence. View "United States v. McCollum" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law