Home / Opinion / Sentencing — prior convictions

Sentencing — prior convictions

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit


Sentencing — prior convictions

Where the district court implicitly addressed the defendant’s argument that the sentencing guideline was the result of an unwarranted disparity, the sentence is affirmed.

“Here, the government sought a § 851 enhancement based on Spiller’s prior felony convictions, and Spiller does not dispute that it was within the government’s discretion to do so. Instead, Spiller contends that the district court committed procedural error when it failed to adequately consider the effect of § 851 on the calculation of the Guidelines range. We disagree. At sentencing, Spiller asked the district court to ‘look at the crime and focus on the crime and put a sentence based on what other people get for that crime.’ The district court considered Spiller’s argument, but ultimately rejected it, explaining that ‘the nature of this defendant trumps and overrides and overwhelms the nature of the crime in this case.’ It stated that ‘[Spiller’s] criminal record is so bad and so replete with conduct of violence,’ that a greater sentence was warranted. The district court focused heavily on Spiller’s conviction for the sale of a firearm to a felon, and reasoned that this merited a longer sentence. It explained, ‘It is one thing to sell crack cocaine. It is another to sell a gun that is notably intended for use to kill business competitors or to maim them and make the streets safer for the seller of the drugs and not for society.’ The court imposed a below-Guidelines sentence of 240 months ‘in major recognition of the nature of the crime, and the crack/powder disparity,’ but explained that a longer sentence was necessary due to Spiller’s extensive criminal history. Though the district court never explicitly addressed Spiller’s § 851 argument, it did so implicitly, and performed the requisite analysis. The court provided a reasoned explanation of the 240-month sentence it imposed, which was 22 months below the recommended Guidelines range.”


13-1459 U.S. v. Spiller

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Kocoras, J., Bauer, J.

Leave a Comment