Sunday, November 17, 2013

United States v. Roberson case brief

United States v. Roberson case brief summary
474 F.3d 432 (2007)

The Government appealed the 85-month sentence imposed by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, following defendant's guilty plea to bank robbery, a violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 2113(a), (d), and using a firearm in a crime of violence, a violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 924(c)(1)(A). Defendant was sentenced to one month for the bank robbery and to a consecutive 84 months for the gun offense.


  • On appeal, the court noted that the minimum guidelines sentence for a bank robbery that did not involve a gun was 46 months, and when the consecutive 84-month sentence required by§ 924(c)(1) was added, the total was 130 months. 
  • The district court believed that automatically adding 84 months to the sentence unreasonably limited its discretion and that the Government should not have charged a violation of § 924(c)(1). 
  • However, the district court was not entitled to override Congress or second-guess the government's choice of which crimes to charge. 
  • The district court should have picked a sentence for the bank robbery without regard for the fact that a gun had been used in it and then tacked on 84 months. 
  • The district court did not weigh the 18 U.S.C.S. § 3553(a) factors in a reasonable manner as it did not consider the equivocal character of the factors upon which it relied or compare them with the aggravating factors, such as the fact that defendant was on probation when he committed the crime, the size of the haul, and his lack of cooperation with the police. 
  • In light of the aggravating factors, a sentence below the minimum guidelines sentence for the robbery was not reasonable.

The court reversed the district court's judgment and remanded the case to the district court with instructions to resentence defendant.

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