United States v. Shill

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 01-24-2014
  • Case #: 13-30008
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Tallman for the Court; Circuit Judge Bea and District Judge Murphy.
  • Full Text Opinion

18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), using the internet to entice a minor, is not unconstitutionally vague, nor does a ten-year minimum sentence imposed on violators infringe upon the violator's Eighth Amendment rights.

Randy Shill approached "JS," a 16 year old female classmate of Shill's own children, at a high school event, and told her he thought she was beautiful. That night, he sent her a Facebook friend request. JS told her parents, who contacted the FBI. An FBI agent took control of JS's Facebook account and created an email address to message Shill. Shill repeatedly attempted to entice JS, really the agent, to have sex with him. Shill arranged to meet JS at the local light rail station. Agents watched Shill in his car as he waited for JS to arrive at the agreed time. Agents arrested Shill. Shill was indicted under 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b), for using the Internet to entice a minor to engage in sexual activity. Shill was also charged under the Oregon statute, with Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree and Contributing to the Sexual Delinquency of a Minor, both misdemeanors. Shill filed a motion to dismiss the indictment, which the district court denied. Instead he plead guilty, on the condition that he reserved his right to appeal the district court's denial of his motion to dismiss and the mandatory ten-year minimum sentence. Shill appealed both the denial and the minimum sentence, claiming that the language in § 2422(b) is vague, should not apply to misdemeanor offenses, and leads to an “absurd” result, in violation of his Eighth Amendment rights. Shill argued that the rule of lenity should apply, due to the statute’s unconstitutional vagueness. The Ninth Circuit held that the statute was not void for vagueness, looking at the plain meaning of the statute, and moving on to canons of construction. The panel also held the ten-year minimum sentence did not violate Shill’s Eighth Amendment rights. AFFIRMED.

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