United States v. Dawson

The Third Circuit revisited the career offender enhancement under the Sentencing Guidelines and the recent decision in United States v. Nasir. The District Court agreed with the probation department that the defendant had at least two qualifying predicate convictions — his repeated violations of 35 Pa.C.S. § 780-113(a)(30) — for “controlled substance offenses” under the Guidelines, making him a career offender under U.S.S.G. § 4B1.1(a). The defendant argued that the Pennsylvania statute criminalized “attempted transfer” and the completed transfer of controlled substances. Thus, because inchoate offenses are not predicates under Section 4B1.1(a), the Pennsylvania statute could not form the basis of a career offender designation. But the Third Circuit held that the Pennsylvania statute is not a “true inchoate offense” and thus may form the basis of a career offender designation. The Court utilized the categorical approach to determine that the defendant was designated a career offender correctly.

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