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United States v. Lyons

United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania

July 10, 2014

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
Michael LYONS, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Joy Flowers Conti, Chief United States District Judge

I. Introduction

Defendant Michael Lyons (“defendant”) filed a motion (ECF No. 99) to revoke the order of detention pending trial issued by the magistrate judge. After reviewing the proceedings before the magistrate judge, the pretrial services report, the submissions of the parties, and the evidence and argument at the hearing held on July 3, 2014, the court denied defendant’s motion. The defendant will be detained without bond pending trial for the reasons set forth below.

On May 21, 2014, a grand jury returned an indictment charging defendant with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and to distribute one kilogram or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and (b)(1)(A)(i). The magistrate judge held a detention hearing on June 2, 2014. The magistrate judge found that the rebuttable presumption set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3) applied to defendant and that defendant did not rebut the presumption. (ECF No. 74.) Defendant was ordered detained pending trial.

II. Legal Standards

A judicial officer must determine whether a defendant should be detained or released pending trial. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(a). A defendant may be released on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond, or, if necessary to assure the appearance of the defendant and safety of the community, release may be subject to conditions. Id. § 3142(b) and (c). If no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the defendant or safety of the community, the judicial officer shall order that the defendant be detained prior to trial. Id. § 3142(e). In certain cases, a rebuttable presumption that no conditions or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of defendant as required or the safety of the community applies. Id. § 3142(e)(3). This rebuttable presumption applies to, among others, cases in which there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed an offense under the Controlled Substances Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 801 et seq., for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e)(3)(A). An indictment charging defendant with a crime punishable by imprisonment for ten years or more under the Controlled Substances Act triggers this presumption. United States v. Suppa, 799 F.2d 115, 119 (3d Cir. 1986).

If the presumption applies, the defendant must “produce some credible evidence forming a basis for his contention that he will appear and will not pose a threat to the community.” United States v. Carbone, 793 F.2d 559, 560 (3d Cir. 1986) (per curiam). This burden of production is “relatively light.” United States v. Chagra, 850 F.Supp. 354, 357 (W.D. Pa. 1994). The factors to be considered by the court in determining whether the defendant has rebutted the presumption are set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g). Carbone, 793 F.2d at 561. The four factors are

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense is a crime of violence, a violation of section 1591, a Federal crime of terrorism, or involves a minor victim or a controlled substance, firearm, explosive, or destructive device;
(2) the weight of the evidence against the person;
(3) the history and characteristics of the person, including—
(A) the person’s character, physical and mental condition, family ties, employment, financial resources, length of residence in the community, community ties, past conduct, history relating to drug or alcohol abuse, criminal history, and record concerning appearance at court proceedings; and
(B) whether, at the time of the current offense or arrest, the person was on probation, on parole, or on other release pending trial, sentencing, appeal, or completion of sentence for an offense under Federal, State, or local law; and
(4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the person’s release.

18 U.S.C. § 3142(g).

If the presumption is rebutted, the government must show that no condition or combination of conditions would reasonably ensure the appearance of the defendant or safety of the community if defendant were to be released. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f). Proving that the defendant poses a danger to the community requires clear and convincing evidence. Id. With respect to proving that the defendant is a flight risk, the government’s burden is a preponderance of the evidence. United States v. Himler, 797 F.2d 156, 161 (3d Cir. 1986). The factors in 18 U.S.C. ยง 3142(g) ...


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