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Indigent man ordered to pay $5,000, guilty plea waiver valid

November 8, 2018

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a district court’s imposition of a $5,000 special assessment to a man, despite the discovery that he was indigent, finding no evidence to suggest his waiver was invalid.

In Feb. 2018, Joshua Bolin pleaded guilty to possession of sexually explicit material involving minors, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2252(a)(4)(B) and 2252(b)(2). After signing a plea agreement, the district court sentenced Bolin to 10 years in prison and a supervised release term of 15 years.

The trial court did not impose a fine per recommendation of the probation office due to Bolin’s “current financial resources and future ability to pay.” However, it ordered Bolin to pay a $100 mandatory special assessment and an additional special assessment of $5,000.

On appeal, Bolin argued that the district court erred in imposing the $5,000 additional special assessment when it found him to be indigent when it appointed him counsel and when it decided he was unable to pay a fine under 18 U.S.C. §§ 3014.

Parties disputed whether Bolin’s claim fell within the scope of the waiver provision in his plea agreement. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ultimately agreed with the government’s contention that Bolin agreed to a “blanket waiver of appeal,” including “all provisions” of his sentence and “any fine.”

In its decision, the 7th Circuit Court cited United States v. Perillo, 897 F.3d 878, 882 (7th Cir. 2018), noting that in Perillo, “the fact that other specific terms of the sentence were mentioned and restitution was not does not take restitution out from under the ‘all provisions’ umbrella.”

“The waiver provision in Bolin’s plea agreement similarly referred to ‘all provisions’ of his sentence. And additional special assessments are part of the sentencing ‘package,’” Circuit Judge Joel Flaum wrote for the court. “Thus, Bolin’s waiver provision did not need to expressly reference the additional special assessment in order for the waiver provision to apply to that aspect of Bolin’s sentence. The waiver provision had sufficient breadth to encompass Bolin’s right to raise a claim involving the additional special assessment on appeal.”

Absent any evidence to suggest that Bolin’s waiver was invalid, the 7th Circuit Court found the waiver contained in Bolin’s plea agreement was enforceable in USA v. Joshua C. Bolin, 18-2208.

 

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