Published on: Monday, October 29, 2018

On October 26, 2018, in United States v. Haymond, No. 17-1672, the Supreme Court granted cert to address whether the Tenth Circuit correctly held unconstitutional and unenforceable the portions of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(k) that require a district court to revoke a defendant’s supervised release (imposed following a conviction for possession of child pornography) and to impose an enhanced term of reimprisonment (the defendant was otherwise facing a zero to two-year statutory range ordinarily applicable in Class C felony cases), following the district court’s finding by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant violated the conditions of his release by committing a second sex offense. Section 3583(k) provides that if a person required to register under SORNA commits another sex offense under certain federal statutes, the district court shall revoke the term of supervised release and require the person to serve a term of imprisonment of not less than five years. The Tenth Circuit held that the statute was unconstitutional for two reasons: (1) it strips the sentencing judge of discretion to impose punishment within the statutorily prescribed range; and (2), it imposes heightened punishment on sex offenders based, not on their original crimes of conviction, but on new conduct for which they have not been convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.   

A link to the Petition (which contains the lower court opinion in Appendix A), Brief in Opposition, and Reply can be found here. The Training Division provides criminal defense resources on Constitutional and Statutory Challenges to SORNA, issues involving Probation/Supervised Release, and other important Sentencing Resources.