US v. Rashawn Owens

Filing 920100104

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UNPUBLISHED UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FOURTH CIRCUIT No. 09-4299 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff - Appellee, v. RASHAWN LAMAR OWENS, Defendant - Appellant. Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, at Raleigh. Terrence W. Boyle, District Judge. (7:08-cr-00095-BO-1) Submitted: December 11, 2009 Decided: January 4, 2010 Before NIEMEYER, DUNCAN, and AGEE, Circuit Judges. Affirmed by unpublished per curiam opinion. Thomas P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, G. Alan DuBois, Assistant Federal Public Defender, James E. Todd, Jr., Research and Writing Attorney, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant. George E. B. Holding, United States Attorney, Anne M. Hayes, Jennifer P. May-Parker, Assistant United States Attorneys, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee. Unpublished opinions are not binding precedent in this circuit. PER CURIAM: Rashawn Lamar Owens pled guilty to unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(1) (2006), and was sentenced to a term of 110 months imprisonment. Owens appeals his sentence, contending that the district court erred in giving a four-level another increase felony, for U.S. use of a firearm in connection with Sentencing Guidelines Manual 2K2.1(b)(6) (2008), and plainly erred in adopting the enhanced based in base part offense on level of 24 under USSG 2K2.1(a)(2), conviction for Owens' prior North Carolina speeding to elude arrest. We affirm. Owens was arrested after narcotics officers executed a search warrant at a hotel room in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Owens was not a suspect in the drug investigation, but when the officers entered the hotel room, Owens was seated in a chair with a 9mm pistol pointed at the officers. In the presentence report, the probation officer recommended a four-level increase for use of a firearm in connection with another felony, i.e., assault on the law enforcement officers by pointing the gun at them. assault At sentencing, Owens insisted that he did not commit an because he did not realize the officers were law enforcement officers and thought he was being robbed. the arresting officers testified at sentencing One of they that announced their presence and identity loudly and knocked before 2 opening the door, that they were wearing clothing that clearly identified them as law enforcement officers, and that Owens dropped the gun only after he was ordered to do so three times. The district court summarily overruled Owens' objection and applied the enhancement. Whether a defendant has actually possessed a firearm in connection with another felony offense is a factual question. United States v. Garnett, 243 F.3d 824, 829 (4th Cir. 2001). Accordingly, the district court's decision to enhance Owens' offense level pursuant to 2K2.1(b)(6) is reviewed for clear error. United States v. Osborne, 514 F.3d 377, 387 (4th Cir.), Owens suggests that the cert. denied, 128 S. Ct. 2525 (2008). district court wrongly assumed that pointing a firearm at a law enforcement officer is a felony under North Carolina law regardless of whether the defendant knew the law enforcement officer was in fact a law enforcement officer. 1 See State v. Avery, 337 S.E.2d 786, 803 (N.C. 1985) (holding that "knowledge is an essential element of the crime of assault with a firearm upon a law enforcement officer"). Owens bases his argument Under N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-34.2 (LexisNexis 2007), an assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer in the performance of his duties is a Class F felony. An assault by pointing a gun "at any person," is a Class A1 misdemeanor under N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-34, and a simple assault is a Class 2 misdemeanor. N.C. Gen. Stat. 14-33 (LexisNexis 2007). 1 3 primarily contending on the brevity of the court district did not court's find ruling, that he that the district knowingly pointed a gun at the officers. He also argues that the officer's testimony was insufficient to support the enhanced base offense level because it did not establish how long it took him to recognize that he was confronting law enforcement officers. However, we agree with the government's position that the only question before the district court at sentencing was whether Owens knew that he was pointing his gun at law enforcement officers. Therefore, the district court's denial of Owens' objection constituted a ruling that he pointed the gun with knowledge that the persons entering the hotel room were law enforcement officers. Owens contends that we are precluded from reaching this conclusion, relying on United States v. Carter, 564 F.3d 325, 329 (4th Cir. 2009), in which we noted that "the Supreme Court's recent sentencing jurisprudence plainly precludes any presumption that, when imposing a sentence, the district court has silently adopted arguments presented by a party." However, in Carter, the issue was the district court's failure to provide a specific explanation for a below-guideline sentence. that the sentence not was procedurally the unreasonable court's We held the for because reasons record did reveal sentencing choosing the sentence it imposed. 4 Id. at 330. By contrast, a narrow issue was before the district court and the court's ruling was clearly a rejection of Owens' claim that he did not know he was pointing a gun at police. Although a more complete explanation would have been preferable, the court's ruling was adequate under the circumstances. In addition, the officer's testimony was sufficient to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that Owens had time to recognize the men entering the room as police. See United States v. Jeffers, 570 F.3d 557, 570 (4th Cir. 2009) (stating standard of review). Here, the information before the district court was sufficient to support its finding by a preponderance of the evidence. Owens did not challenge his base offense level of 24 in the district court and thus his challenge to it is reviewed for plain error. (4th Cir. 2005). United States v. Hughes, 401 F.3d 540, 547 Under the plain error test, United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 732-37 (1993), a defendant must show that (1) error occurred; (2) the error was plain; and (3) the error affected his substantial rights. Id. at 732. Even when these conditions are satisfied, this court may exercise its discretion to notice the error only if the error "seriously affect[s] the fairness, integrity or public reputation of judicial proceedings." Id. (internal quotation marks omitted). 5 A 2K2.1(a)(2) base if offense the level of 24 is the applied instant under offense defendant committed after being convicted of two felony offenses that are either a crime of violence or a controlled substance offense. A "crime of violence," as used here, see 2K2.1 cmt. n.1, is defined in USSG 4B1.2(a) as [A]ny offense under federal or state law, punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, that (1) has as an element the use attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person of another, or (2) is burglary of a dwelling, arson, or extortion, involves use of explosives, or otherwise involves conduct that presents a serious potential risk of physical injury to another. Owens accepting the claims probation that the district court of erred the in base officer's calculation offense level at 24, based in part on his prior North Carolina felony conviction for eluding arrest with a motor vehicle with three aggravating factors, in light of Begay v. United States, 128 S. Ct. 1581, 1585 (2008) (holding that a crime of violence under the "otherwise" clause in 18 U.S.C. 924(e) (2006), which mirrors the language in 4B1.2(a)(2), must be "roughly similar, in kind as well as in degree of risk posed," to the enumerated crimes), and United States v. Roseboro, 551 F.3d 226 (4th Cir. 2009) (holding that test applied in United States v. James, 337 F.3d 387, 390-91 (4th Cir. 2003), 6 is no longer good law; applying Begay). He also relies on Chambers v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 687 (2009) (holding that the crime of failing to report for confinement is not a "violent felony" under the Armed Career Criminal Act, 18 U.S.C. 924(e)). In Roseboro, we held that "the proper inquiry focuses on the similarity between the prior crime and the enumerated crimes in 924(e)(2)(B)(ii), purposeful, violent, asking and whether the prior crime which involved aggressive conduct, would demonstrate a likelihood that the defendant would use a firearm during the commission of a crime." at 234. We further held that "[t]he Roseboro, 551 F.3d intentional act of disobeying a law enforcement officer by refusing to stop for his blue light signal, without justification, Id. at 240. is inherently an aggressive and violent act." Roseboro decided that a South Carolina conviction for failure to stop for a blue light was not categorically a "violent felony" under 924(e) or a crime of violence under the guidelines because it did not require the government to prove that the defendant's failure to stop was intentional. Id. at 240-41. However, we noted in Roseboro that the North Carolina speeding to elude statute at issue in this case, N.C. Gen. Stat. 20-141.5, is one that does "require that the failure to stop for a blue light be purposeful." Roseboro, 551 F.3d at 236, 239 & n.5. Thus, under Roseboro, the district court did not err, or plainly err, in 7 accepting the probation officer's recommendation to treat Owens' prior felony speeding to elude conviction as a crime of violence and applying the enhanced base offense level in 2K2.1(a)(2). 2 We district facts therefore We affirm the with are and sentence oral imposed by the the the the court. legal before dispense argument because in aid and contentions the court adequately argument presented not materials would decisional process. AFFIRMED Owens maintains that Chambers v. United States, 129 S. Ct. 687 (2009), prohibits a sentencing court from assuming that a prior offense involves conduct that presents serious potential risk to others, given that the Supreme Court in Chambers relied on statistical analysis rather than "assumptions about inherent risks" to reach its decision. We are not persuaded that Chambers requires a reexamination of this aspect of Roseboro. 2 8

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