United States v. Winfield, No. 10-5032

Decided: January 17, 2012

Christopher Winfield was charged with violating the terms of his supervised release after a prison stay for a crack cocaine conviction. Winfield’s parole officer alleged both additional state offenses and “technical” infractions (violating the terms of the federally-imposed supervised release). The district court held two hearings; first, it found Winfield guilty of the “technical” violations and sentenced him to an additional twelve months of prison, but did not specifically revoke his supervised release. Later, once the state offenses had reached disposition, the court found him guilty of those violations, added another twelve months in prison, and revoked his supervised release.

Winfield appealed. He argued that after the first violation hearing, the district court’s imposition of a twelve month prison sentence effectively revoked his supervised release—even if the order did not do so explicitly—and that the court lost jurisdiction to hold the second hearing thereafter. The Fourth Circuit rejected this argument and affirmed the sentences. First, it applied the reasoning Johnson v. United States, 529 U.S. 694 (2000) and an unpublished Third Circuit decision to find that “a revoked term of supervised release does not terminate the release, but instead ‘recall[s],’ ‘call[s,] or summon[s] back’ the release during the defendant’s imprisonment for violations of the release.” Furthermore, the language of the supervised release statute does not terminate the court’s jurisdiction to hear claims of violation of the terms of the release when the petition is brought within a reasonable time.

Full Opinion

-C. Alexander Cable

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