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United States v. Gauld

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 1, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff- Appellee
v.
William Gauld Defendant-Appellant

          Submitted: April 4, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Texarkana

          Before SMITH, Chief Judge, WOLLMAN, LOKEN, RILEY, COLLOTON, GRUENDER, BENTON, and KELLY, Circuit Judges, En Banc.

          SMITH, Chief Judge.

         The mandatory minimum sentence for receiving child pornography in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) is five years' imprisonment. Id. § 2252(b)(1). But if the defendant has a "prior conviction" under state law "relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward, " then the mandatory minimum sentence is 15 years' imprisonment. Id. We granted en banc review to consider whether a state juvenile-delinquency adjudication is a "prior conviction" under § 2252(b)(1). Because it is not, we vacate William Gauld's 15-year sentence and remand for resentencing.

         I. Background

         Gauld created a profile on a photo-sharing website under the screen name "lovesboys81." He posted sexually explicit pictures of young boys and made lewd comments about the pictures. He also downloaded child pornography. A search of Gauld's laptop and cell phone uncovered 921 images and 66 videos of child pornography.

         Gauld pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a)(2) by receiving child pornography. His presentence report (PSR) calculated his Guidelines range as 151-188 months' imprisonment based on his offense level and criminal history. Gauld's criminal record included a juvenile-delinquency adjudication for criminal sexual conduct involving a minor. Treating the juvenile-delinquency adjudication as a conviction, the PSR applied the 15-year mandatory minimum in § 2252(b)(1). With the mandatory minimum, Gauld's Guidelines range became 180-188 months' imprisonment. See U.S.S.G. § 5G1.1(c)(2).

         Gauld objected to a distribution enhancement listed in the PSR and to the PSR's counting his juvenile-delinquency adjudication as a "prior conviction" under § 2252(b)(1). The district court sustained Gauld's objection to the enhancement. The court told Gauld, though, that "it's really not going to have an [e]ffect on the amount of time that you are looking at, " because under circuit precedent, juvenile-delinquency adjudications are prior convictions in § 2252(b)(1). According to the district court, were it not for the mandatory minimum, Gauld "would be looking at a guideline range of 121 to . . . 151 months." The court sentenced Gauld to the 15-year mandatory minimum.

         On appeal, a panel of this court affirmed Gauld's sentence. The panel majority held that United States v. Woodard, 694 F.3d 950 (8th Cir. 2012), bound the district court and the panel on whether juvenile-delinquency adjudications are prior convictions under § 2252(b)(1). United States v. Gauld, 833 F.3d 941, 944 (8th Cir. 2016). Gauld moved for rehearing en banc, which we granted. We now hold that juvenile-delinquency adjudications are not prior convictions under § 2252(b)(1).[1] To the extent Woodard concluded otherwise, it is overruled.[2]

         II. Discussion

         We interpret statutes de novo. United States v. Storer, 413 F.3d 918, 921 (8th Cir. 2005). Title 18 U.S.C. § 2252(a) states, among other things, that those who knowingly receive child pornography "shall be punished as provided in subsection (b) of this section." Subsection (b)(1) spells out the punishment for violating § 2252(a)(1)-(3):

Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, paragraph (1), (2), or (3) of subsection (a) shall be fined under this title and imprisoned not less than 5 years and not more than 20 years, but if such person has a prior conviction under [certain federal laws], or under the laws of any State relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor or ward, or [other child pornography or sex-trafficking offenses], such person shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for not less than 15 years nor more than 40 years.

         The statute does not define "prior conviction." See 18 U.S.C. § 2256. Even though Gauld's adjudication occurred under state law, we look to federal law to define this term. Storer, 413 F.3d at 921-22. Federal law has long distinguished juvenile adjudications from criminal convictions. In 1938, Congress passed the Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act (FJDA), ch. 486, 52 Stat. 764, 766. It provided for anyone 17 or under who violates federal law (unless the offense was punishable by death or life imprisonment) to be "prosecuted as a juvenile delinquent." § 2, 52 Stat. at 765. Such a person was to be "prosecuted by information on the charge of juvenile delinquency" and not prosecuted for the underlying federal offense. Id. If found "guilty of juvenile delinquency, " the juvenile was to be sentenced under juvenile-specific conditions. ยง 4, 52 Stat. at 765. A 1948 amendment clarified the contrast between juvenile and adult ...


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