Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wilks: Roper does not affect treatment of youthful offenses

In U.S. v. Wilks, No. 05-14262 (Sept. 13, 2006), the Court affirmed a 212-month sentence imposed on a defendant convicted of drug-trafficking.
The Court rejected the argument that reliance on youthful offenders convictions to qualify for enhanced sentences under the career offender guideline and the Armed Career Criminal Act violated Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), which held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of individuals who were under 18 at the time the offense was committed.
The Court noted that its precedent since Roper had affirmed reliance on youthful offenders convictions. Further, Roper "does not deal specifically – or even tangentially – with sentence enhancement."
The Court also rejected the argument that several youthful offender convictions should have deemed "related" because Wilks was sentenced for them on the same day in State court. The Court noted that offenses are considered separate and not related if there is an intervening arrest. Here, there was an intervening arrest, and the fact that Wilks’ State sentencing for multiple offenses occurred at the same time did not alter the analysis.
Finally, the Court rejected the challenge to the sentence as "unreasonable," pointing out that the sentence was fifty months shorter than the low-end of the Guideline range.