United States v. Miller, No. 20-4075 (4th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Fourth Circuit affirmed defendant's sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm, holding that the district court did not err in computing defendant's criminal history score. The court rejected defendant's contention that the district court erred in adding one criminal history point under USSG 4A1.1(c) based on his North Carolina conviction for possession of marijuana, which was treated under North Carolina law as a prayer for judgment continued (the PJC disposition).
The court explained that Section 4A1.1(c) directs that one additional point be added to a defendant's criminal history score for any "prior sentence" less than 60 days, with a limitation of four total points under that section. The court further explained that the plain language of Section 4A1.2(f) encompasses defendant's PJC disposition, notwithstanding the fact that his sentencing in that case was deferred indefinitely. Contrary to defendant's contention, the court stated that the range of sentencing options under North Carolina law is not dispositive in the court's analysis, because federal rather than state law applies to its interpretation of the Guidelines. Furthermore, the naming conventions of the state dispositions do not affect the present outcome. Nor does state law treatment of a diversionary disposition influence application of the Guidelines. Therefore, the court concluded that, under the Guidelines, the adjudication or admission of guilt preceding entry of the PJC, rather than the ultimate outcome of the PJC disposition, places such a disposition in the category of cases assigned one criminal history point under Section 4A1.1(c). In this case, the record shows that defendant had been afforded the benefit of rehabilitative disposition but did not take advantage of that benefit.