The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed today a below guideline sentence issued to a registrant by a federal trial court. The registrant pled guilty to one charge — attempted coercion or enticement of a minor — and could have been sentenced to prison for up to 57 months. Instead, the trial court sentenced the registrant to time served (two months) as well as 120 months of supervised release, one year of home confinement, participation in a sex offender treatment program and registration as a sex offender.
The prosecutors filed this appeal based on its assertion that the sentence failed to afford deterrent effect. Specifically, the government argued that the registrant’s “commendable 20-year military career and his exemplary behavior on pretrial release are not ‘sufficiently compelling’ to justify his below-guidelines sentence.'”
The appellate court cited the registrant’s “meritorious military career” during which “he earned numerous awards and commendations” for service in Iraq and Somalia. The appellate court also cited the registrant’s expressed remorse, treatment for service-related PTSD and full-time employment during his pretrial release as factors supporting his below guideline sentence.
In its opinion, the appellate court noted that the district court’s sentence is a “substantial punishment.” Finally, the appellate court distinguished two cases cited by the government based upon the acts committed the th registrants in the other cases.
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has appellate jurisdiction over U.S. district courts in seven states — Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.