United States v. Johnson

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Parole and Post-Prison Supervision
  • Date Filed: 10-30-2012
  • Case #: 11-30256
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court; Circuit Judges Silverman and N.R. Smith
  • Full Text Opinion

A court may impose a condition on supervised release for convictions that include similar factors or aspects from a defendant’s prior convictions if such a condition would protect the public and help to rehabilitate the defendant.

Johnson pleaded guilty to knowing and unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(a)(2). The district court sentenced him to five years of supervised release, subject to a condition that Johnson undergo a sexual offender assessment. Johnson had used weapons during two prior sexual offense convictions. Despite claims of completion of sexual offense treatment for his decades-old convictions, the Probation Office could not verify Johnson’s claim. The district court determined that the assessment was a “very minor restraint on liberty” and decided that its “obligation for the safety of the public, as well as rehabilitation of this defendant” justified the assessment. Johnson challenged the reasonableness of the assessment and argued that “the assessment violate[d] his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.” The question on appeal was whether a district court may require a sexual offender assessment as a condition of supervised release when the defendant has two prior sexual offense convictions involving weapons, and completion of sex offender treatment cannot be confirmed. Reviewing for an abuse of discretion, the Court determined that a district court may impose a condition of supervised release if it “involves no greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary” to punish, deter, protect the public from or rehabilitate the defendant. 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(2). The condition should also “reasonably relate[ ]” to “the nature and circumstances of the offense and the history and characteristics of the defendant.” 18 U.S.C. § 3583(d)(1) and § 3553 (a)(1). It was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to apply an assessment condition to a defendant twice convicted of violent sexual offenses with weapons when the current offense also concerned a weapon. The Court noted that district court has “wide latitude” to apply such conditions, which will allow for more informed decisions. AFFIRMED.

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