United States v. Hinton, 21-3166

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
PartiesUNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. CURTIS HINTON, Defendant-Appellant.
Docket Number21-3166
Decision Date24 November 2021


CURTIS HINTON, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 21-3166

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

November 24, 2021



Before: SUTTON, Chief Judge; STRANCH and BUSH, Circuit Judges.



Curtis Hinton appeals his sentence for violating his conditions of supervised release, arguing that it is both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. Because Hinton's newly imposed term of supervised release exceeds the maximum permissible under 18 U.S.C. § 3583(h), we VACATE and REMAND for further proceedings on that aspect of Hinton's sentence. We AFFIRM all other aspects of Hinton's sentence.


On December 19, 2017, Curtis Hinton pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1349 and two counts of substantive bank fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344(1). On March 28, 2018, Hinton was sentenced to time served-approximately eight months and fifteen days of imprisonment-and a supervised release term of three years. Hinton's term of supervised release began on August 29, 2018.

In January 2019, Hinton was charged with domestic violence in state court. As a result of the charge, the district court issued a warrant for Hinton's arrest for violating the terms of his


supervised release, which required that he "not commit another federal, state, or local crime." After conducting a violation hearing, the district court allowed Hinton to be released on bond pending the disposition of the new charge. The district court, however, imposed additional conditions on Hinton's release, requiring Hinton to undergo GPS monitoring and ordering him to have no contact with the victim of his domestic violence charge.

In March 2019, Hinton violated the bond conditions, and the district court revoked his bond. Hinton was subsequently held in custody pending the resolution of his new charge. In June 2019, Hinton pleaded guilty to a lower charge of misdemeanor assault in state court. Following the resolution of the state charge, the district court held a violation hearing.

Ahead of the violation hearing, the United States Pretrial Services and Probation Office (Probation Office) prepared a supplemental violation report outlining Hinton's violations and the corresponding Guidelines information. The supplemental report provided that Hinton was in Criminal History Category III and Grade C was the highest grade of violation, resulting in a Guidelines range of 5-11 months' imprisonment. At the hearing, Hinton admitted to the Grade C violation. The Probation Office indicated its willingness to continue to supervise Hinton. Recognizing the unusual circumstances of the Probation Office's willingness to continue supervision with Hinton, the district court sentenced Hinton to time served-approximately three months imprisonment-and continued Hinton's term of supervision.

Throughout the hearing, the district court stressed that it would not "be very lenient" if Hinton violated his supervised release again. The district court specifically noted that if Hinton violated his terms again, "I'll probably -- I'll give you definitely a guideline sentence, and I could give you up to two years." The district court concluded the hearing by telling Hinton "[Y]ou're going to have to prove yourself. That's all I'm saying."


In March 2020, the Probation Office filed a report indicating that Hinton had violated the terms of his supervised release again when he was charged with improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle and driving under suspension in state court. Hinton was eventually charged in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Case No. 1:20-CR-294, with one count of possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon and one count of possession of a firearm by a person with a domestic violence conviction. This firearms case was assigned to the same district judge who presided over Hinton's supervised release. In October 2020, Hinton pleaded guilty to both offenses.

In February 2021, the district court held a combined sentencing hearing for the violation of supervised release and for the firearms case. Ahead of the sentencing hearing, the Probation Office filed a supplemental report affirming its recommendation of 8-14 months as Hinton's Guidelines range of imprisonment.

At the hearing, the district court considered Hinton's history and characteristics, including his age, drug-related issues, accommodation with law enforcement, criminal history, and the effort he was making since his arrest. The district court ultimately sentenced Hinton to twenty-four months imprisonment, to be served consecutively to the sentence in the firearms case, and three years of supervised release, to run concurrently with the term of supervised release in the firearms case. The district court explained that the prison sentence was to be served consecutively because Hinton committed the firearms offense while on supervision.

The district court then asked counsel for objections. Neither defense counsel nor the Government objected. Hinton himself, however, asked the district court to explain his sentence further. Specifically, Hinton noted that his Guidelines range for the supervised release violation was 8-14 months and that he was "trying to figure out why is it 24 months then." The district


court then explained that Hinton was correct that his Guidelines range was 8-14 months and further explained that 24 months was the maximum. When Hinton continued to express confusion, the district court explained "because you got another case while [ ] on supervision, you get the maximum." Following the hearing, the district court entered a written order reiterating its finding that Hinton violated his supervised release and outlining the resulting sentence.

Hinton timely appealed his sentences in both this supervised release violation case and the firearms case.[1] Hinton's appeal of the firearms case was resolved earlier this year by a different panel of this court, which affirmed the district court's judgment. United States v. Hinton, No. 213162 (6th Cir. Sept. 24, 2021) (order). In this present appeal, Hinton argues his sentence for violating his supervised release is both procedurally and substantive unreasonable.


A. Standard of Review

"Review of a sentence imposed for violation of the conditions of supervised release is identical to review of a sentence imposed for a conviction." United States v. Wilson, 630 Fed.Appx. 575, 578 (6th Cir. 2015) (citing United States v. Bolds, 511 F.3d 568, 575 (6th Cir. 2007)). "Sentences in criminal cases are reviewed for procedural and substantive reasonableness." United States v. Freeman, 640 F.3d 180, 185 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38, 51 (2007)). We "must first ensure that the district court committed no significant procedural error, such as failing to calculate (or improperly calculating) the Guidelines range, treating the Guidelines as mandatory, failing to consider the § 3553(a) factors, selecting a sentence based on clearly erroneous facts, or failing to adequately explain the chosen sentence-including an explanation for any deviation from the Guidelines range." Gall, 552 U.S. at 51. Then, we review


the substantive reasonableness of a sentence. Id. "Simply put, a defendant's sentence is substantively unreasonable if it is too long." United States v. Lee, 974 F.3d 670, 676 (6th Cir. 2020) (citing United States v. Rayyan, 885 F.3d 436, 442 (6th Cir. 2018)). And "[a] sentence is too long when it is 'greater than necessary' to achieve the sentencing goals set forth in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)." Id. (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)).

Generally, reasonableness in sentencing is reviewed under the abuse-of-discretion standard. United States v. Johnson, 640 F.3d 195, 201 (6th Cir. 2011) (citing United States v. Polihonki, 543 F.3d 318, 322 (6th Cir. 2008)). Under this standard, we review the district court's legal conclusions de novo and its factual findings for clear error. United States v. Shanklin, 924 F.3d 905, 919 (6th Cir. 2019).

"Under the rule we adopted in Bostic, district courts are required, after announcing sentence, to 'ask the parties whether they have any objections to the sentence . . . that have not previously been raised.'" United States v....

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