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Federal Robbery Sentence Vacated on Procedural Grounds

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2021 | Federal Criminal Cases

Federal courts do not have the jurisdiction to try any alleged crime committed in the United States. For a United States District Court to entertain criminal charges against a defendant, there must be a valid statutory or constitutional basis for the federal court to exercise jurisdiction over the charge. Because of these restrictions on federal jurisdiction, laws have been creatively passed by the U.S. Congress to expand federal jurisdiction over alleged criminal conduct. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2341–2353, colloquially known as the Hobbs Act, is one such statute.

The Hobbs Act allows federal courts to take jurisdiction over crimes of robbery or extortion that disrupt interstate commerce, as the federal government has control over interstate commerce under the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution. A federal appellate court recently heard a defendant’s appeal of several Hobbes act convictions.

In the recently decided case, the defendant was charged in federal court with three crimes related to an alleged robbery under the Hobbs act. Based on his guilty pleas, the defendant was ultimately convicted and sentenced for three crimes: conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery (Count 1), commission of a Hobbs act robbery (Count 2), and discharge of a firearm while committing a Hobbs Act robbery (Count 3). Under mandatory federal sentencing guidelines, the defendant was sentenced to 10 years in prison for Count 3, which would serve consecutively with a 46-57 month sentence that was imposed for Counts 1 and 2.

The defendant appealed his convictions to the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing in part that he was sentenced for Counts 1 and 2 without consideration of the mitigating factors that he brought up before sentencing. The defendant claimed that he was young when the crimes occurred, that he was less culpable than a codefendant, that he had no serious criminal history, and that he was unlikely to re-offend. The appellate court evaluated the defendant’s claims and found that the district court was statutorily required to evaluate the defendant’s claims and put findings on the record of why the claims were accepted or rejected. Because the defendant’s claims were not mentioned in the sentencing decision, the convictions for Counts 1 and 2 were reversed and remanded to the district court for the defendant to be resentenced. The defendant also challenged the applicability of the Hobbs Act for his conviction under Counter 3, but the Appellate court rejected the claim.

Are You Facing Federal Criminal Charges for a Virginia Crime?

Being accused of a federal crime can be a scary and intimidating experience. Along with questions of jurisdiction, federal mandatory minimum sentences can be substantially harsher than state sentencing guidelines for similar crimes. Anyone who is charged with a federal crime should seek out competent and qualified legal advice to decide how to address the charges and mount a defense. The dedicated Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Robinson Law, PLLC have experience representing clients charged with federal crimes, and our legal team can help you fight the charges effectively. We represent clients charged with all types of state and federal crimes, including robbery. If you’ve been accused of a crime, call 703-542-3616 to schedule a free and confidential consultation with one of our attorneys today.