Friday, December 09, 2016

When choosing the most applicable guideline goes awry

US v. Williams:  In this appeal, the Fourth Circuit reviewed a guidelines challenge, whether the correct guideline was applied, when compared with the actual misconduct charged.  Here, Ernest Lee Williams, Jr. attempted to rob a bank, but didn’t make it inside the building.  The district court applied the robbery guideline at sentencing, mainly because it included an enhancement for targeting financial institutions.  Williams appealed.

The Fourth Circuit agreed with Williams that the misconduct charged here most closely resembled burglary than robbery, and the burglary guideline should have been applied.  The burglary guideline yielded Williams an imprisonment range of 10 to 16 months, while the robbery guideline produced a range of 37 to 46 months; Williams had originally been sentenced to 38 months.

Williams had been indicted, the Fourth Circuit explained, for attempting to enter a back with the intent to commit a felony and larceny therein, i.e., a bank burglary.  There was no mention in his indictment of any element of “force or violence, or [extortion or] intimidation, which is required for conviction of bank robbery” under statute.  The Fourth Circuit states that it is clear that Williams should have been sentenced under the burglary guideline; it vacated Williams’ sentence, remanding for re-sentencing.

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