United States v. Edwards

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 08-15-2013
  • Case #: 12-10204
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Schroeder for the Court; Circuit Judges Ripple and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

When sentencing an adult convicted of a crime, the district court does not violate the Eighth Amendment by using prior juvenile convictions to increase the sentence.

DeMario Edwards pled guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon and was sentenced to 46 months, the bottom of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range. When the district court sentenced Edwards, it assigned criminal history points for crimes Edwards committed as a juvenile. Edwards argued that considering such crimes when sentencing adults is in violation of Supreme Court Eighth Amendment cases limiting criminal punishment of juveniles. However, the Ninth Circuit agreed with other circuit courts and held that the recent Eighth Amendment cases do not preclude the district court from “assigning criminal history points for juvenile convictions.” The panel noted that Edwards’s sentence was punishing him for his conduct when he was an adult, not when he was a juvenile as in the Supreme Court cases Edwards cited. Edwards further argued that the district court improperly categorized his prior conviction for attempted burglary as a “crime of violence,” which increased the base offense level. The district court reached this conclusion after looking to the charging document and guilty plea. However, while Edwards’s appeal was pending, the Supreme Court limited the application of the modified categorical approach, holding that “courts may not use judicially noticeable documents to identify facts underlying a prior conviction.” Therefore, the burglary conviction could not be considered a categorical crime of violence. Although the panel found no error in the district court’s calculation of Edwards’s criminal history, the panel directed the district court to resentence without any enhancement for a prior “crime of violence” conviction. VACATED and REMANDED.

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