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United States v. Charles

November 9, 2006

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
v.
RANDOLPH CHARLES, APPELLANT



Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Criminal Action No. 04-CR-00181) District Judge: Honorable Malcolm Muir.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ambro, Circuit Judge

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted Under Third Circuit LAR 34.1(a) September 28, 2006

Before: McKEE and AMBRO, Circuit Judges RESTANI,*fn1 Chief Judge, Court of International Trade.

OPINION OF THE COURT

Randolph Charles appeals his sentence from a conviction in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for possession of a prohibited object by an inmate. At issue is whether his sentence-a prison term of 46 months, which is at the highest end of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range for the underlying offense-is reasonable in light of United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005). We review the sentence for reasonableness and, for the reasons set forth below, affirm it.

I. Facts and Procedural History

At the time of the underlying incident for which Charles was convicted and sentenced, he was an inmate at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. On November 20, 2003, he submitted to a compulsory strip search conducted by a correctional officer. During that search, the officer discovered that Charles possessed a six-inch piece of sharpened plastic (a plastic "knife"). On May 26, 2004, a grand jury returned a one-count indictment for possession of a prohibited object by an inmate in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1791(a)(2), (d)(1)(B) & (d)(2).*fn2 Charles pled guilty to the charge at a plea hearing before the District Court on July 21, 2004.*fn3

Under the then-mandatory United States Sentencing Guidelines, the District Judge determined that Charles was a career offender, which placed him in a Guidelines imprisonment range of 37 to 46 months, two to three years' supervised release, a fine of $4,000 to $40,000, and a mandatory special assessment of $100. On September 1, 2004, the Judge waived all fines and sentenced Charles to 46 months' imprisonment, three years' supervised release, and the mandatory $100 special assessment.

Charles appealed to us, arguing, inter alia, that mandatory application of the Guidelines was unconstitutional. We affirmed the judgment of conviction but remanded for resentencing in accordance with Booker, which eliminated the mandatory aspect of the Guidelines. The District Court imposed the same sentence as before.

Charles is back before us on appeal. He asserts that the sentence is unreasonable because the District Court failed to articulate its consideration of the sentencing factors in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a).*fn4 He requests that we vacate the sentencing judgment and remand for resentencing.*fn5

II. Standard of Review

After Booker, the Guidelines have only advisory force and appellate courts must review sentences for reasonableness according to the "relevant [Section 3553(a)] factors" that guide sentencing. 543 U.S. at 234; cf. United States v. King, 454 F.3d 187, 194 (3d Cir. 2006); Cooper, 437 F.3d at 327--28. We have interpreted Booker to require the following three steps:

(1) Courts must continue to calculate a defendant's Guidelines sentence precisely as they ...


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