United States v. Hornbuckle

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: 04-21-2015
  • Case #: 12-10541
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Christen for the Court; Circuit Judges Fletcher and Davis
  • Full Text Opinion

Impermissible double counting during sentencing occurs when a court applies an enhancement for a necessary element of the underlying conviction.

Tynisha and Tamrell Hornbuckle were found guilty of sex trafficking of minors under 18 U.S.C. § 1591, and received sentence enhancements under U.S.S.G. §§ 2G1.3(b)(2)(B) and 2G1.3(b)(4)(A). The Hornbuckles appealed their sentences, arguing that the district court improperly applied § 2G1.2(b)(2)(B) because there was no undue influence against the minors. The Hornbuckles also argued that applying § 2G1.3(b)(4)(A) constituted double counting. The Ninth Circuit reviewed the sentences for impermissible double counting, which “occurs when a court applies an enhancement for a necessary element of the underlying conviction.” The panel determined that applying § 2G1.3(b)(4)(A) to the Hornbuckles’ sentences did not constitute double counting because sex trafficking of minors does not require that the minors actually commit a sex act. The panel also found that the sentences were properly enhanced under § 2G1.2(b)(2)(B) because evidence showed that the Hornbuckles “unduly influenced a minor to engage in prohibited sexual conduct” by controlling every aspect of the minors’ lives. Evidence of the minors’ prior acts of prostitution, and voluntariness to begin working for the Hornbuckles did not preclude the fact that the Hornbuckles unduly influenced the minors to engage in further acts of prostitution. The panel therefore affirmed the district court’s sentences. AFFIRMED.

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