7th Circuit Court of Appeals
Case Name: United States of America v. Donta Baker
Case No.: 21-3141
Officials: Easterbrook, Hamilton, and Brennan, Circuit Judges.
Focus: Sentencing Guidelines
In trying to avoid arrest, appellant Baker ran from police officers, took a loaded firearm out of his waistband, and threw it over a fence into a residential backyard and was sentenced to 72 months and one day in prison after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Based on this conduct, the district court added two offense levels under Sentencing Guideline § 3C1.2 for Baker’s having “recklessly created a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to another person in the course of fleeing from a law enforcement officer.” On appeal, Baker challenges that guideline finding. The Seventh Circuit ruled that the record makes clear that the district judge would have imposed the same sentence even if the two contested guideline levels had not been added. Accordingly, even if there had been a guideline error, it would have been harmless. The actual sentence was also reasonable under the circumstances.