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April 3, 2006

The joys of deciphering and assessing criminal history

Sentencing fans know that much federal court energy is devoted to deciphering and assessing defendants' criminal history.  More evidence of this reality comes right away this week from a Sixth Circuit decision in US v. Beasley, No. 04-6468 (6th Cir. Apr. 3, 2006) (available here), which is yet another ruling sorting through eligibility for armed career criminal status under the guidelines.

In addition, as noted here by Lyle Denniston over at SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court granted cert. today on a pair of immigration cases that will take that Court back into the criminal history arena:

The Court ... [granted cert in] a pair of cases that seek to clarify what kind of conviction for a drug crime can lead to deportation for an immigrant.  The question is whether, if the conviction came under state law and is a felony, but would only be a misdemeanor under federal narcotics law, does that qualify as an "aggravated felony" that can lead to deportation.  The Court consolidated two cases on that issue: Lopez v. Gonzales (05-547) and Toledo-Flores v. U.S. (05-7664).  The cases will be heard next Term, in a one-hour argument.  The Solicitor General urged the Court to hear the issue.

UPDATE:  Right on cue, the Ninth Circuit in US v. Piccolo, No. 04-10577 (9th Cir. Apr. 3, 2006) (available here) today opines on whether the defendant's "conviction for walkaway escape from a halfway house is a 'crime of violence' under [USSG] ยง 4B1.1 [to qualify as] a 'career offender' under that provision."  The thoughtful opinion in Piccolo highlights a number of circuit splits on these sorts of criminal history issues.

April 3, 2006 at 10:41 AM | Permalink


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A minor correction: Toledo-Flores is a criminal case involving the aggravated felony enhancement under 8 U.S.C. s 1326(b)(2) and U.S.S.G. s 2L1.2(b)(1)(C).

Posted by: B | Apr 3, 2006 10:33:15 PM

My husband is in prison and his sentence was greatly enhanced due to prior escape charge very similiar to the one in Piccolo. I am interested in finding out what the other circuits have ruled since this decision, escpecially the 10th district. Any information would be more than appreciated.

Posted by: Joy Kwedor | Apr 19, 2007 2:21:47 PM

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