Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Vandergrift: Rehabilitation not valid basis for sentence on revocation of supervised release

In U.S. v. Vandergrift, No. 12-13154 (June 18, 2014), the Court affirmed a 24-month term imposed upon revocation of supervised release. Recognizing a Circuit split on the issue, the Court held that it was not plain error for the district court to rely on § 3553(a) factors like the seriousness of the offense when revoking supervised release, even though these factors are not included in the list of factors a district court should consider when deciding whether to revoke supervised release. The Court agreed with Vandergrift that the district court committed Tapia error when it considered rehabilitation as a basis for imposing a 24-month sentence. The Court noted that Tapia “prohibits any consideration of rehabilitation when determinng whether to impose or lengthen a sentence of imprisonment.” On plain error review, however, the Court found that this error did not affect Vandergrift’s substantial rights, because the sentencing court’s “primary considerations were for the safety of the public and deterring others from similar conduct.”