Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Court Allows Serial Revocation, Sentencing, of Supervised Release Violations

US v. Harris: Harris was serving a term of supervised release when he was subject to a traffic stop that uncovered guns and drugs. He was arrested and a petition to revoke was filed alleging that he had violated the law by possessing those items. Addenda were filed with additional allegations (after the Government learned that Harris was part of a state murder investigation), including failing to notify his probation officer after contact with law enforcement and new state criminal charges. At a revocation hearing the district court concluded Harris had violated by failing to report, revoked Harris, and sentenced him to a month in prison, followed by 40 more months of supervised release. The other allegations were held in abeyance pending the outcome of proceedings in state court. While in prison, Harris was indicted federally for being a felon in possession of a firearm during the traffic stop. The Government filed another addendum based on that indictment and sought to dismiss the remaining allegations. The district court granted that motion, then revoked Harris a second time, imposing a 36-month term of imprisonment and a further 24-month term of supervised release.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Harris's revocations and sentences. The court noted that it "it well-established that a revocation does not end a term of supervised release" and that "[a]fter revocation, the defendant continues to serve his term of supervised release, but does so in prison." Previously, the court had held that "the district court's jurisdiction over the supervised release continues past revocation" and "the district court's supervisory authority continues as well." As a result, it does not matter that the second revocation was based on an allegation that was made after the first revocation, but involving conduct that occurred before the first revocation. Furthermore, the court found that the combined sentences imposed for Harris's revocations did not exceed the statutory maximum because those limits apply to every revocation and do not aggregate. Thus, with regard to the total new supervised release terms imposed - 64 months, beyond the 60-month statutory maximum - the court held that 18 USC 3583(e)(3) "does not require the district court to credit time previously served on post-release supervision" and so the "district court could sentence Harris up to 60 months of supervised release upon his second revocation without giving credit for any of the time that he had already served." The same is true for the terms of imprisonment. The court also rejected Harris's argument that the second revocation was "additional punishment for his already-revoked, original term" because that "theory would convert per-revocation maximums into per-term of supervised release maximums" which is "contrary to Congress's intent to create a per-revocation maximum."

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