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Federal Prisoner Receives Maximum 46 Month Sentence For Knife Possession

Federal prisoner Randolph Charles appealed a 2006 decision based on then-mandatory guidelines under 18 U.S.C. § 1791. He received a maximum 46-month sentence for possession of a six-inch makeshift plastic knife. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed his sentence as reasonable in light of U.S. v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

Charles submitted to a strip search in 2003 at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, and was charged with possession of the plastic knife. He pled guilty and received 46 months, three years on supervised release, and a mandatory $100 assessment. He argued that the court failed to articulate its consideration of sentencing factors under 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a), because the factors have only advisory force after Booker eliminated the mandatory aspect of the federal guidelines. In addition to calculating the guidelines, the judge had reviewed Charles' background, personal circumstances, the seriousness of the offense, his propensity for violence, and his post and pre conviction criminal activity, and determined that Charles had a lack of respect for the law and required a severe sentence. Charles further claimed that there were disparities between his case and similar cases.

On appeal, the Third Circuit was satisfied with the district court's application of the statute under Booker and post Booker standards. Further, it held that any disparities resulted from the judge's reasonable exercise of discretion. The sentence was affirmed. See: United States v. Charles, 467 F.3d 828 (3d Cir. 2006).

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Related legal case

United States v. Charles