Thursday, March 08, 2007

Fourth Circuit holds that district court must permit defendant to allocute before sentencing

In UNITED STATES v. MUHAMMAD, Muhammad argued that his sentence should be vacated because the district court did not permit him to allocute before he was resentenced. The Fourth Circuit agreed:

Because the "possibility remain[s]" that Muhammad could have received a lesser sentence had he been permitted to allocute at resentencing, he has sufficiently shown that he was prejudiced by the denial of allocution. Cole, 27 F.3d at 999. For the same reason, we exercise our discretion to notice the error. See id. We therefore vacate Muhammad’s sentence and remand for resentencing. At the resentencing hearing, the district court must permit Muhammad to allocute before imposing sentence.

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