Monday, May 09, 2011

Felony Enhancements for Unauthorized Computer Access Misdemeanors Violate Double Jeopardy

US v. Cioni: Cioni engaged in a pattern of harassment against an ex-lover and those around him. As a result, she was charged with several offenses, including two counts of obtaining information through unauthorized access to computers. Although that offense is ordinarily a misdemeanor, it can become a felony if it was committed "in furtherance" of other offenses. In Cioni's case, she was alleged to have committed the offenses in furtherance of obtaining access to communications in electronic storage. The jury convicted her on those charges (and three others) and found they were committed in furtherance of other offenses, triggering the felony enhancement.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit reversed Cioni's convictions on those two counts, remanded for the imposition of misdemeanor convictions and for resentencing. The court agreed with Cioni that, the way the offenses were charged, she was convicted of the misdemeanor offense and then had that enhanced to a felony, based on the same conduct. That enhancement violated the Double Jeopardy Clause. The court then rejected Cioni's arguments that the evidence was insufficient to sustain two of the other convictions against her, that she did not knowingly and voluntarily waive her right to counsel at sentencing, where she proceeded pro se, and several other minor arguments. The court vacated Cioni's 15-month sentence, the two felony convictions, and remanded for further proceedings.


Fit PC said...

If this issue is raised, evidence will be placed before the court, which will normally rule as a preliminary matter whether the plea is substantiated, and if it so finds, the projected trial will be prevented from proceeding.

justice denied said...

Will you please elaborate on your comment please? I do not follow.