Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Ban on Alcohol reversed; rest of sentence OKed

Betts was a bad boy.  He had been convicted of bank fraud, and sentenced to two years imprisonment and five years' supervised release.  The Court had also required that he pay restitution and to notify his probation officer within 72 hours if he was arrested.  Betts had been arrested for driving without a license, and he had not notified his probation officer.  He also had not made the restitution payments.  He pleaded guilty to violating his plea agreement.  He was sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment and an additional four years of supervised release.  As part of his sentence, the Court required him to abstain from alcohol use during his supervised release and required substance abuse testing, stating that there would be zero tolerance for the use of any drugs at all.  Betts appealed.

The Second Circuit rejected Betts's position that the four years of supervised release was unreasonable because if was within the Sentencing Guidelines range, although on the high side of the range.  Any sentence within the Guidelines range is deemed presumptively reasonable.  The Court similarly rejected Betts's claim that his offense did not warrant the four years and that the District Court had wrongly rejected his mitigation evidence.

The Court found that the requirement that the zero tolerance for the use of any drugs was permissible, noting that it did not apply to any prescription drugs.

The Court did find that the ban on alcohol was not not reasonably reasonably related to any of the factors outlined in Section 5D1.3(b) of the Guidelines and vacated that provision of the sentence.

The decision in United States v. Betts can be found here.

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