United States v. Dawson, No. 20-1233 (7th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Dawson pled guilty to conspiring to transport stolen property in interstate commerce and was sentenced to 18 months of prison followed by three years of supervised release, plus restitution. Less than a year after Dawson was released, Dawson’s probation officer asked the court to revoke his supervised release because Dawson had violated several conditions, including by possession of a firearm. Dawson was charged in state court with weapons violations. He was released to home confinement on electronic monitoring.
At the federal revocation hearing, the parties disagreed about proving the firearms violation. The judge opined that state courts “do literally nothing” on firearm violations and continued the hearing. Later, officers testified and the court found by a preponderance of the evidence that Dawson had possessed the firearm. Dawson did not contest the other violations.
The advisory Guidelines range was six-12 months in prison. The statutory maximum was 24 months. The court revoked Dawson’s supervised release and sentenced him to 24 months’ imprisonment with no supervised release to follow. The court focused first on Dawson’s electronic-monitoring violation, then on Dawson’s failure to make restitution payments. As for Dawson’s missed drug tests, the court considered them a “technical violation.” The court called the firearm violation, “an affront to the Court,” and “a danger to the community.” The court made its sentence consecutive to any forthcoming sentence in the pending state-court case.
The Seventh Circuit affirmed, rejecting arguments that the court chose its sentence to punish Dawson for possessing the firearm but should have focused on his breach of the court’s trust and left any punishment to the state court and that the court disregarded his mitigation arguments and the relevant sentencing factors.