February 4, 2008
More on the Snipes jury outcome and acquitted conduct enhancements
Following up my post on Friday's verdict in the Welsey Snipes tax evasion trial, I received this notable e-mail from a lawyer who had a criminal trial before the federal district judge in charge of Snipes' sentencing fate:
Snipes - re: acquitted conduct
FYI - I had a jury trial before Judge Hodges (the Snipes case judge) a couple of years ago. Split verdict. Jury acquitted the defendant of the most serious charge and convicted of a less serious one. Judge Hodges pounded the defendant with the acquitted conduct and imposed a Guidelines sentence that was identical to the one defendant would have received had he been convicted on all counts. The judge's decision made the jury trial seem less than pointless. I often wonder how that jury would feel if they knew that their deliberations were meaningless.
Some posts on acquitted conduct sentencing enhancements:
February 4, 2008 at 09:04 AM | Permalink
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Again, I think administrative law could come into play here and resolve this. Before an Administrative Law Judge can order deportation, the Feds must prove the immigrant violated a deportable offense. That requires not only the record of conviction, but also that the element of the offense was a deportable offense. Acquitted, unplead and/or uncharged conduct cannot be a factor if I understand this body of law correctly. For reasons of due process and equal protection and whatever else a real lawyer could think of, the same standard should apply when a defendant is sentenced to prison rather than deported.
Posted by: George | Feb 4, 2008 12:10:24 PM
The current state of criminal law is that someone must be convicted of or plead guilty to an actual crime before s/he can be imprisoned.
Also, if the crime is not an "imprisonable offense"--i.e. only fines or probation are allowed--then the defendant can't be imprisoned.
Posted by: | Feb 4, 2008 4:03:21 PM
That is probably what the jury thought as well, and any jury would likely be surprised to learn that all its deliberations leading to a "record of conviction" was merely a suggestion the court could ignore.
Posted by: George | Feb 4, 2008 7:44:18 PM