United States v. Smith

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 06-26-2013
  • Case #: No. 11-50549
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Ikuta for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Hurwitz
  • Full Text Opinion

When applying enhancements to a sentence, it is permissible to double count for the same occurrence of conduct if the enhancements are to address separate concerns.

Maurice Smith was convicted of sex trafficking of a minor under 18 U.S.C. § 1591(a)(1) and (b)(1). He received two sentence enhancements: (1) for exerting undue force on a minor, and (2) maintaining an organizational role in the trafficking enterprise. Smith appealed, arguing that the enhancements were already included within the statute, and therefore the additional enhancements were an impermissible double counting and the product of procedural error. The Ninth Circuit reviewed the case for procedural error de novo. The panel discussed that a judge can apply different chapters of the Sentencing Guidelines when determining sentences. Additionally, the panel stated that double counting is expressly prohibited when it is applied to sentencing occurring from the same conduct. However, the panel also noted that double counting is permissible when the enhancements relate to separate concerns. In this case, the panel agreed with the lower court that the “undue influence” enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 2G1.3(b)(2) served a different purpose from the included enhancement of force or threat of violence. The panel also agreed with the lower court’s “organizational” enhancement under U.S.S.G. § 3B1.1(c) because Smith not only organized the minor victim, but also commanded others to act on his direction within the sex trafficking enterprise, which included directing a trusted and loyal prostitute to groom, train, and discipline the minor victim. AFFIRMED.

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