By Evelyn Norton

Today in an unpublished opinion, United States v. Yancey, the Fourth Circuit affirmed a decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina convicting and sentencing Mr. Tyrone Yancey to eighty-seven months in prison.  In district court, Mr. Yancey plead guilty to distributing heroin.  On appeal, Mr. Yancey challenged the adequacy of the hearing pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and the reasonableness of the sentence imposed.  The Government did not file a response.

The District Court Complied With Rule 11.

First, the Fourth Circuit reviewed Mr. Yancey’s Rule 11 hearing for plain error.  The Court found that the district court fully complied with Rule 11 in hearing Mr. Yancey’s plea.  As a result, Mr. Yancey’s plea was “knowing and voluntary, and, consequently, final and binding.”

The District Court Did Not Abuse its Discretion in Imposing Mr. Yancey’s Sentence.

Second, the Fourth Circuit reviewed Mr. Yancey’s sentence for reasonableness under an abuse of discretion standard.  The Court first reviewed the district court’s decision for procedural error, which would include improper Sentencing Guidelines range calculations.  However, the Court determined that the calculated range was proper.

Next, the Court reviewed the district court’s decision for substantive reasonableness.  The Court considered the totality of the circumstances and also whether the sentence was within the Sentencing Guidelines range.  The Fourth Circuit applied a presumption of reasonableness and found that the eighty-seven month sentence was within the properly calculated Sentencing Guidelines range.  Accordingly, the Court concluded that Mr. Yancey failed to rebut the presumption of reasonableness and the district court did not abuse its discretion in imposing Mr. Yancey’s sentence.

Conviction and Sentence Affirmed

The Fourth Circuit found that there are no meritorious issues for appeal and affirmed the district court’s conviction and sentence.