On Appeal from the United States District Court; for the Middle District of Pennsylvania; D.C. Criminal No. 90-00025.
Cowen, Alito, and Rosenn, Circuit Judges.
The United States appeals under 18 U.S.C. § 3742(b)(3) from a final sentence imposing a shorter term of imprisonment than the minimum set out in the applicable range of the Sentencing Guidelines. Because the factors upon which the district court relied in departing from the guideline range were adequately taken into consideration by the Sentencing Commission in formulating the relevant guidelines, we will vacate the sentence and remand for resentencing.
The defendant was indicted in January 1990 in the Middle District of Pennsylvania for six counts of distribution of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1). The defendant pled guilty to one count as part of a plea agreement calling for dismissal of the remaining counts.
The defendant's presentence report concluded that he qualified for sentencing under the career offender provision of the Guidelines, Section 4B1.1. This section provides in pertinent part as follows:
A defendant is a career offender if (1) the defendant was at least eighteen years old at the time of the instant offense, (2) the instant offense of conviction is a felony that is either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense, and (3) the defendant has at least two prior felony convictions of either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense.
The term "prior felony conviction" is defined as a prior adult conviction for an offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year. Section 4B1.2, Application Note 3. The term "crime of violence" is defined as any federal or state offense that is punishable by more than one year's imprisonment and that either contains "as an element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another" or is among the offenses specifically listed, including "burglary of a dwelling." Section 4B1.2.
The defendant's presentence report revealed that he was 32 years old at the time of offense for which he was to be sentenced and that he had several prior adult felony convictions for crimes of violence or controlled substance offenses. First, he was convicted in the Dauphin County (Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas for burglarizing an apartment in Middletown, Pennsylvania; he committed this offense on June 5, 1975, at the age of 18 years, 8 months. He was sentenced to imprisonment for 11 to 23 months but was paroled immediately to authorities in Virginia to face pending charges. Second, he was convicted in the Portsmouth (Virginia) Circuit Court for the armed robbery of a pharmacy and was sentenced to ten years' confinement; he committed this offense on September 5, 1974, one day after his eighteenth birthday. Third, the defendant was convicted in 1985 in the Lackawanna County (Pennsylvania) Court of Common Pleas for delivery of a controlled substance and was sentenced to from two to four years' imprisonment; this offense occurred in April 1985, when the defendant was 28 years old. Finally, also in 1985, the defendant was convicted in the Lackawanna County Court of Commons Pleas for delivery of a controlled substance and was sentenced to from two to four years' confinement to run concurrently with the previously mentioned drug sentence. The defendant committed this offense in September 1984, at age 28. Apparently because the last two offenses were consolidated for sentencing, the presentence report treated them as a single prior conviction.*fn1 Thus, for purposes of the career offender guideline, the presentence report disclosed three prior qualifying convictions, although the guideline required only two.
Based on these facts, the presentence report concluded that the defendant fell within the career offender provision of the Guidelines, Section 4B1.1. Under this provision, every career offender is given a criminal history category of VI. In addition, a career offender is given an enhanced offense level that is calculated based on the maximum statutory penalty for the offense on which he is being sentenced. In the defendant's case, the maximum statutory penalty was imprisonment for not more than 20 years (21 U.S.C. § 841(b)(1)(C)). Accordingly, the defendant was given an offense level of 32 (Section 4B1.1(C)). With a two-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility (Sections 3E1.1, 4B1.1), the presentence report calculated the defendant's final offense level as 30. Based on this offense level and a criminal history category of VI, the presentence report reached a guideline imprisonment range of 168 to 210 months.
During the sentencing proceeding, the defendant's attorney requested a downward departure based on a variety of grounds. Defense counsel argued that the defendant's first two adult offenses "occurred when [he] was kind of a mixed up kid." Defense counsel also claimed that as soon as the defendant was arrested for the burglary in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, he confessed to the prior robbery in Virginia, and defense counsel asserted that the Virginia robbery would not have been solved otherwise. In addition, defense counsel asserted that his client was a good father who regularly visited his child and paid child support.
The district court agreed with the accuracy of the calculation in the presentence report but granted a substantial downward departure. The court wrote:
Defense Counsel cited the defendant's youthfulness and immaturity at the time he committed prior offenses in 1974 and 1975 along with the short time span between the commission of the offenses and the defendant's cooperation with authorities. Defense Counsel also referred to the needs of the defendant's dependent child and his past efforts to support the child. Having considered the comments of Defense Counsel and the totality of ...