US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
USA v. Lopez
Opinion Date: June 13, 2023
Judge: Cory T. Wilson
Areas of Law: Constitutional Law, Criminal Law
Defendant pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a felon. He challenged his sentence on several grounds, particularly the district court’s imposition of a four-level enhancement for use or possession of a firearm in connection with another felony offense. The linchpin of this case is whether Defendant’s repeated instances of being a felon in possession of a firearm were relevant conduct justifying the enhancement.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court held that the district court thoroughly analyzed the factors for relevant conduct— similarity, regularity, and temporal proximity—and concluded the evidence weighed in favor of the Government. Here, Defendant was sentenced to 70 months—well below the 10-year statutory maximum. The district court committed no error, clear or otherwise, in its analysis. Further, the court explained that the Sentencing Guidelines do not generally prohibit double counting. The Guidelines permit the district court to consider a defendant’s prior felony convictions in calculating both his offense level under Section 2K2.1(a) and his criminal history category. Accordingly, the court held that the district court did not err in calculating Defendant’s sentence on this basis.
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