Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Monday, June 23, 2014

Doughtery: Flight in Colorado one week after Georgia robbery not "immediate"

In U.S. v. Dougherty, No. 12-16540 (June 20, 2014), the Court reversed the imposition of a six-level sentence enhancement for assaulting an officer during “immediate flight” from an offense, but otherwise affirmed the 428-month sentence on defendants who went on a Georgia crime spree, and fled to Colorado, where they fired on chasing police before being apprehended with cash from a bank robbery, and firearms and ammunition, in the trunk of their vehicle. The Court noted that USSG § 3A1.2 authorizes the imposition of a six-level enhancement if a defendant is accountable for the assault on a law enforcement officer during “an immediate flight” from an offense. Dougherty, however, assaulted an officer in Colorado one week after a bank robbery in Georgia. His assault therefore was no during an “immediate flight” from the robbery, and the six-level enhancement did not apply. The Court rejected the challenge to the imposition of a two-level sentence enhancement based on substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury during flight under § 3C1.2. The Court pointed out that this enhancement (unlike § 3A1.2) did not require immediacy. And each defendant could held accountable for this conduct: one defendant drove recklessly, another fired shots at pursuing police officers, and a third pointed a pistol at an officer. The Court rejected one defendant’s argument that his sentence should not have been enhanced under § 3C1.1 on account of his attempt to flee from jail in Colorado. The Court found the enhancement applicable because the escape occurred before trial or sentencing. Finally, the Court rejected substantive reasonableness challenges to the 428-months sentences, noting the “compelling” reasons given by the district court for its upward departure: the numbers of firearms involved, the number of civilians put at risk, and the defendants’ significant criminal history.