In United States v. Hamilton, No. 21-14266 (May 2, 2023) (Rosenbaum, Jill Pryor, Tjoflat), the Court—without oral argument—affirmed the defendant’s 40-year sentence and lifetime term of supervised release after pleading guilty to enticing a minor, sending interstate extortionist threats, and producing child pornography.
As to the term of imprisonment, the defendant argued that the district court erred by applying a four-level enhancement under U.S.S.G. 2G2.1(b)(4). However, the Court found it unnecessary to address that argument because his total offense level would have remained unchanged under the grouping rules in 3D1.4. Thus, any error was harmless.
As to supervised release, the defendant argued that the district court failed to state its reasons. The Court clarified that the requirement in 18 U.S.C. 3553(c)(1)—that the court state the reasons for a guideline-range sentence—applied to supervised release. And it re-affirmed that it reviews that issue de novo, even where a defendant does not object. However, the district court need not make two separate explanations—one for imprisonment and one for supervised release—because most of the 3553(a) factors are the same. In this case, the district court did not separately address the 3553(a) factors in connection with supervised release, but it did address several of those factors in connection with the term of imprisonment, and that explanation applied equally. And the defendant could always seek to modify his term of supervision in the future.