7th Circuit not convinced by inmate’s double jeopardy argument

August 17, 2015

A convicted sex offender who did not have the requisite certificate of appealability was still able to present his constitutional claims, but the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals found no grounds to overturn his conviction and sentence.   

Humberto Sanchez-Rengifo was convicted in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia for multiple offenses including three counts of first-degree child sexual abuse while armed and one court of second-degree child sexual abuse while armed. He was sentenced to life without parole and assigned to serve his time in the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute.

In 2014, Sanchez-Rengifo filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. 2241. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana denied relief.

However, the District Court did not issue a certificate of appealability nor did Sanchez-Rengifo apply for one. The 7th Circuit noted it could grant such a certificate if the applicant made a substantial showing of the denial of a constitutional right. In this case, the unanimous panel did not find a substantial constitutional question.

Sanchez-Rengifo argued, in part, his conviction violated the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause because he was convicted and sentenced for multiple offenses that were committed during one act.

The 7th Circuit pointed to precedent that has established the double jeopardy clause does not prevent a legislative body from imposing multiple punishments for the same offense. And a sentence arising from the Legislature assignment of several punishments does not violate the Constitution.

Consequently, the 7th Circuit ruled because the Legislature gave a punishment to each act of child sexual abuse, Sanchez-Rengifo did not suffer multiple punishments for the same crime and his sentences did not violate the double jeopardy clause.

In Humberto Sanchez-Rengifo v. J.F. Caraway, 14-2876, the 7th Circuit denied a certificate of appealability and dismissed Sanchez-Rengifo’s petition for lack of jurisdiction.



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