ILNews

Look-alike offense counts as controlled-substance offense in sentencing

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

A previous conviction for a “look-alike” offense constitutes a controlled-substance offense for sentencing purposes, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the first time Tuesday.

Irvin Hudson challenged the District Court’s decision that Hudson’s previous conviction of dealing in a substance represented to be a controlled substance – a “look-alike” drug offense – qualified as a controlled-substance offense for calculating his sentence following his guilty plea to possession of a firearm as a felon and possession of a stolen firearm. By having a previous conviction for a controlled-substance offense, Hudson’s sentencing guideline would increase from a base level 14 to a base level 20.

Although the federal guideline sections don’t define the term “counterfeit substance,” there’s no reason why the guidelines must be restricted to a particular state’s concept of what is meant by that term, wrote Judge Diane Wood in United States of America v. Irvin S. Hudson, No. 09-3518. Other Circuit Courts have relied on dictionary definitions of “counterfeit” to find look-alike offenses qualify as a controlled-substance offense under the guidelines.

“Using an independent federal definition of the term thus supports the conclusion that Hudson was convicted of a controlled-substance offense for dealing counterfeit marijuana,” she wrote. "Counsel for Hudson presented a responsible argument, which has convinced some judges that look-alike offenses are not controlled-substance offenses. His position may be worth the attention of the Sentencing Commission or other courts. But, in the end, we are not persuaded.”

Judge Wood noted that at least four sister Circuits have adopted the government’s interpretation of the sentencing guidelines and classified look-alike offenses as controlled-substance offenses. The government also has a point when it argued that it would be nonsensical to punish the selling of controlled substances and mislabeled prescription drugs but not the selling of look-alikes, she noted.

“Given the natural meaning of ‘counterfeit’ and the overall purpose of the guidelines provisions, we decline to adopt Hudson’s narrow definition of ‘counterfeit offense’ as applied to U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1,” wrote Judge Wood.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

ADVERTISEMENT