Thursday, June 28, 2007

Forcible Rape Conviction Does Not Preclude Enhancement for Restraint of Victim

US v. Johnson: Johnson and other man rapped a woman on a naval base. He pleaded guitly to two counts of aggravated sexual abuse. At sentencing, his offense level was enhanced by two levels under USSG 3A.13 for physical restraint of the victim. He argued that physical restraint was already taken into account by the Guideline for his offense, 2A3.1(b)(1), which included a four-level increase for forcible rape. The district court disagreed, and sentenced Johnson to 188 months in prison.

On appeal, Johnson raised the same issue, which the Fourth Circuit rejected. Noting that the two-level restraint enhancement does not apply when such restraint is an element of the offense itself. The court concluded that the offense to which Johnson pleaded guilty, 18 USC 2241(a)(1) includes "force" an element, but not restraint. Specifically, while restraint of the type involved in this case can constitute force under 2241(a)(1), force may include various other actions which would not be considered restraint.

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