Thursday, January 02, 2014

Specifically Exempted Sentencing Factors for Supervise Release Aren't Off Limits for Revocation Sentence

US v. Webb: Webb was brought to court due to behavior that resulted in him facing new charges as well as allegations that he violated the conditions of his supervised release.  As to the supervised release violation, the district court imposed a (upward variance?) sentence of 32 months in prison, to run consecutively to the 80-month sentence imposed for the new charge.  In doing so, the district court explained that the supervised release sentence reflected "the seriousness of the violation," provided "just punishment," and promoted "respect for the conditions of supervision imposed by the court."

Webb appealed, arguing that the district court erred by relying on prohibited factors - namely the seriousness of the offense, promoting respect for the law, and providing just punishment - when it imposed the supervised release sentence.  Engaging in plain error review, the Fourth Circuit disagreed and affirmed.  Although 18 USC 3583(e) lists factors which a court must consider when imposing a supervised release sentence, it does not prohibit the court from considering other factors.  In addition, those factors exempted in 3583(e) are "intertwined with the factors courts are expressly authorized to consider."  Thus, the simple reference of the district court to those factors "without more" does not render the sentence unreasonable (much less plainly so).

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