Michael Lowry, 28, was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for dealing heroin. He was caught after attempting to sell the drugs to a police informant. He was indicted on possession with intent to distribute less than 100 grams of heroin and he pleaded guilty.
Based on his offense level, the sentencing guidelines recommended that he be sentenced to anywhere between 24 to 30 months. He had a history of dealing small amounts
Instead, the government filed a sentencing memorandum requesting an upward variance to 72 months due to Lowry’s criminal history and his continued recidivism. The memorandum also accused Lowry of killing a man, for which had not been previously charged.
District Judge Alan N. Bloch sided with the government; he went beyond the government’s request and sentenced Lowry to 120 months behind bars. This, the judge ruled, was on account of Lowry’s juvenile record and his recidivism. According to the court, Lowry had previously served most of a 3- to 6-year state sentence for a similar crime and had gone back to his old ways. As such, the court found that the prior sentence did nothing to deter him from committing crime.
The district court noted that if the prior sentence did nothing to deter Lowry, then the recommended sentence of 24 to 30 months would have little impact.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals found the district court’s decision “procedurally unreasonable” and remanded the case back to the district court.
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- Successive Revoked Sentences do not Count Toward Maximum (FindLaw’s Third Circuit Blog)