Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, October 20, 2008

Singleton: Can't Assume Powder will all become crack

In U.S. v. Singleton, No. 07-13329 (Oct. 16, 2008), the Court held that the district erred in establishing the base offense for Singleton’s crack and powder cocaine offenses at level 36, instead of level 34.
The district court arrived at the weight quantity of cocaine by assuming that the powder cocaine seized at Singleton’s motel room could all be converted to crack cocaine. This resulted in a higher base offense level, since crack cocaine is punished more severely than powder. However, the motel room did not contain enough quantities of baking soda for Singleton to convert all the powder to crack. In addition, the baggies in which the powder was found indicated that Singleton also dealt in powder cocaine, not exclusively crack. Hence, the district court’s calculation was speculative. The Court vacated the sentence and remanded for resentencing.