United States v. Collins

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Parole and Post-Prison Supervision
  • Date Filed: 06-22-2012
  • Case #: 10-50344
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Marbley for the Court; Circuit Judges Kleinfeld and M. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

To impose a lifetime term of supervised release, the government must prove that the “condition of supervised release involves no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary to serve the goals of supervised release." The heightened burden of clear and convincing evidence does not apply.

Tim James Collins appealed his 60-month sentence and conviction for possession of child pornography. The district court misspoke when accepting Collins’s guilty plea, possibly referencing an earlier indictment. The district court initiated a hearing to correct the record and to ensure that Collins pled guilty to the correct indictment. The Ninth Circuit held that the acceptance of Collins’s guilty plea at the subsequent hearing was “neither plain error, nor structural error.” Collins argued that his sentence, which included a lifetime term of supervised release, was both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. The Court concluded that Collins’s allegation that the district court “inappropriately presumed the reasonableness of the […] term of supervised release” was meritless. Further, Collins requested that the Court apply a heightened “clear and convincing” evidentiary burden in determining whether to impose a lifetime term of supervised release. The Court declined to apply this standard, holding that such a heightened burden only applied in the context of offense level enhancements, not supervised release terms. However, the district court erred in failing to “provide appropriate analysis and support for its imposed terms and conditions of supervised release.” The Court also had “good reason to suspect” that the lifetime residency restrictions were substantively unreasonable. However, having found that the district court procedurally erred, the Court declined to rule on this issue. AFFIRMED in part, VACATED in part, and REMANDED in part.

Advanced Search