Thursday, July 01, 2021

Suspended Sentence Activated On Same Day As Another Sentence Counted Separately

US v. StuartStuart pleaded to mail robbery. At sentencing, he objected to the calculation of his criminal history, arguing that a prior North Carolina sentence that had been suspended initially then was “activated” when he was sentenced for a new offense (also in North Carolina) should be treated as a single sentence along with the term of imprisonment imposed for the newer offense. The district court disagreed and imposed a sentence of 130 months in prison, at the bottom of the resulting advisory Guideline range.

On appeal, the Fourth Circuit affirmed Stuart’s sentence. The court relied on USSG 4A1.2(a)(2), which provides that prior sentences are always counted separately if they were separated by an intervening arrest. In this case, the suspended sentence was initially imposed, then Stuart was arrested on the newer charges, then the suspended sentence was activated and the newer sentence imposed at the same time. As a result, because there was an intervening arrest, the sentences were counted separately.

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