Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mangaroo: Probation Plain Error for 924(c) sentence

In U.S. v. Mangaroo, No. 06-14766 (Oct. 29, 2007), on a government appeal, the Court vacated the sentences of probation imposed on three women college roommates who pled guilty to robbery and firearm offenses in which they helped others "case" places in advance of robberies.
The Court noted that at the conclusion of sentencing, the government only made generalized objections, such as "the government objects to the sentence." This did not suffice to preserve for appeal the error in the sentences, namely the fact that the district court imposed sentences of probation when the statute for the offense of conviction, 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), expressly excludes probation as a sentencing option. However, because this error was plain from the language of the statute, the error constituted "plain error," and grounds, therefore, for vacating the sentences.
The Court pointed out that at the original sentencing, the district court did not cite any assistance-related factors to justify its downward departures. The Court agreed with the government that, at resentencing, the downward departures based on the defendants’ cooperation must be limited to the nature of the "substantial assistance" they provided.