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7th Circuit: conviction can't enhance sentence

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A defendant's conviction of possession of a firearm by a felon stands because police had reasonable suspicion to stop the car he was riding in, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded today. However, the District Court erred when it enhanced his sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act because his past criminal recklessness conviction isn't considered a violent felony.

In United States of America v. Anthony Hampton, No. 07-3134, Anthony Hampton appealed his conviction and 387-month sentence for his role in a shooting around a Subway restaurant in Indianapolis.

Multiple people called 911 to report hearing gun shots and seeing two men near the restaurant. Anthony Smith told dispatchers that the person later identified as Hampton was holding a gun and he got into a white SUV with Ohio license plates. Smith later testified he recognized Hampton from the neighborhood, but he didn't tell dispatchers that. Police pulled over the white Jeep Commander and found two guns inside, and arrested Hampton and Justin Gray.

The District Court denied Hampton's motion to suppress the chrome revolver recovered in the car, which he was charged with possessing. The District Court also enhanced his sentenced under the ACCA.

The Circuit Court determined police had reasonable suspicion to stop the SUV. Hampton argued that the 911 operators established the reasonable suspicion and that they should have determined Smith had a conviction for falsely reporting a shooting. Police faced an ongoing emergency when responding to Smith's call, and he was presumably more reliable than an anonymous tipster, wrote Judge Ann Claire Williams. He provided enough information for officers to test his knowledge or credibility so as to justify the stop of the SUV.

The Circuit Court rejected his argument that the dispatchers established reasonable suspicion because they received multiple calls about the incident, which they relayed to police, who used that information to determine they had reasonable suspicion, she wrote. In addition, emergency dispatchers are in no position to conduct background checks while gathering information about a crime in progress.

There was also sufficient evidence to determine Hampton had active or constructive possession of the chrome gun. Callers reported to 911 dispatchers that they saw Hampton holding a gun, and one caller testified he saw Hampton put a gun in his waistband before getting into the SUV. It doesn't matter that the other gun recovered was a black gun and witnesses were inconsistent as to whether he had the black or chrome gun in his hand, she wrote.

Hampton challenged that his previous conviction of residential entry wasn't a violent felony for purposes of the ACCA. Using Begay v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 1581 (2008), the Circuit judges ruled residential entry can be considered a violent felony. But, one of Hampton's other prior convictions used to enhance his sentence wouldn't be considered a violent felony - criminal recklessness. The state argued Hampton waived this argument, but the cases determined after he was sentenced have held criminal recklessness wouldn't qualify for the enhancement.

"In light of Begay and its progeny, the district court committed plain error when it enhanced Hampton's sentence based on the determination that criminal recklessness in Indiana constituted a violent felony under the ACCA," she wrote.

Without the criminal reckless conviction, Hampton doesn't have the three required prior violent felony convictions to enhance his sentence. The Circuit judges remanded for re-sentencing.

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  1. Not enough copperheads here to care anymore, is my guess. Otherwise, a totally pointless gesture. ... Oh wait: was this done because somebody want to avoid bad press - or was it that some weak kneed officials cravenly fear "protest" violence by "urban youths.."

  2. Should be beat this rap, I would not recommend lion hunting in Zimbabwe to celebrate.

  3. No second amendment, pro life, pro traditional marriage, reagan or trump tshirts will be sold either. And you cannot draw Mohammed even in your own notebook. And you must wear a helmet at all times while at the fair. And no lawyer jokes can be told except in the designated protest area. And next year no crucifixes, since they are uber offensive to all but Catholics. Have a nice bland day here in the Lego movie. Remember ... Everything is awesome comrades.

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  5. All these sites putting up all the crap they do making Brent Look like A Monster like he's not a good person . First off th fight actually started not because of Brent but because of one of his friends then when the fight popped off his friend ran like a coward which left Brent to fend for himself .It IS NOT a crime to defend yourself 3 of them and 1 of him . just so happened he was a better fighter. I'm Brent s wife so I know him personally and up close . He's a very caring kind loving man . He's not abusive in any way . He is a loving father and really shouldn't be where he is not for self defense . Now because of one of his stupid friends trying to show off and turning out to be nothing but a coward and leaving Brent to be jumped by 3 men not only is Brent suffering but Me his wife , his kids abd step kidshis mom and brother his family is left to live without him abd suffering in more ways then one . that man was and still is my smile ....he's the one real thing I've ever had in my life .....f@#@ You Lafayette court system . Learn to do your jobs right he maybe should have gotten that year for misdemeanor battery but that s it . not one person can stand to me and tell me if u we're in a fight facing 3 men and u just by yourself u wouldn't fight back that you wouldn't do everything u could to walk away to ur family ur kids That's what Brent is guilty of trying to defend himself against 3 men he wanted to go home tohisfamily worse then they did he just happened to be a better fighter and he got the best of th others . what would you do ? Stand there lay there and be stomped and beaten or would u give it everything u got and fight back ? I'd of done the same only I'm so smallid of probably shot or stabbed or picked up something to use as a weapon . if it was me or them I'd do everything I could to make sure I was going to live that I would make it hone to see my kids and husband . I Love You Brent Anthony Forever & Always .....Soul 1 baby

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