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United States v. Hawkins

United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Division

July 8, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff/Respondent,
v.
JONAH JAMES HAWKINS, Defendant/Movant.

          MEMORNDUM OPINION & ORDER

          JOHN D. RAINEY, SENIOR U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendant/Movant Jonah James Hawkins filed a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2255 (D.E. 25), which he then amended (D.E. 26). In response, the Government moved the Court to deny the motion (D.E. 45), and Movant replied (D.E. 46).

         I. BACKGROUND

         In 2011, Movant was convicted of “Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct-Victim Under 13” in the Norman County District Court in Ada, Minnesota. As a result, Movant was required to register as a Tier III Sex Offender pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).

         On June 24, 2017, Movant's father reported to the Norman County Sheriff's Office that Movant failed to return home the night before and had left a suicide note. On July 26, 2017, investigators received a telephone hotline tip that Movant was using a LiveMe computer messenger application account under the name “Charlie4c AKA Charlie Ciancanelli.” He had also posted videos titled “Padre Island” and “Abandoned Mall, ” which investigators determined to be Padre Island, Texas, and the Sunrise Mall in Corpus Christi, Texas.

         On August 1, 2017, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MDOC) informed the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) that there was an active warrant for Movant's arrest for absconding from his parole. MDOC agents believed Movant had attempted to fake his own suicide and traveled south to Texas, where he was using the alias Charlie Ciancanelli and staying on the beach or in hotels in the Port Aransas area. On August 2, 2017, Movant posted additional videos sharing his telephone number and telling viewers to follow a “nice 8-year-old girl” online. Subsequent communications between Movant and the girl contained behavior known to be consistent with “child grooming” perpetrated by sex offenders. On August 3, 2017, deputy Marshals obtained a warrant for Movant's arrest after discovering that he had been staying in a motel in Corpus Christi. The following day, deputy Marshals apprehended Movant at Falcon Lake State Park. At the time of his arrest, he was carrying a two- to three-year-old girl, who was part of a family he had just met in Corpus Christi and traveled with to Falcon Lake.

         Movant pled guilty to failing to register as a sex offender in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2250(a). The Presentence Investigation Report (PSR, D.E. 19) calculated the base offense level for failure to register as a Tier III sex offender at 16. Movant received a three-level reduction for acceptance of responsibility. With a total offense level of 13 and a criminal history category of III, his advisory Guideline sentencing range was 18-24 months. The PSR calculated the Guideline range for supervised release as five years to life and stated that, “[s]ince the instant offense of conviction is a sex offense, the statutory maximum term of supervised release is recommended, pursuant to Policy Statement, U.S.S.G § 5D1.2(c).” PSR ¶ 59.

         On January 23, 2018, the Court sentenced Movant to 24 months' imprisonment and 10 years' supervised release. The Court imposed the standard conditions of supervised release recommended by the Sentencing Guidelines. Due to Movant's previous conviction and characteristics, the Court also imposed special conditions of supervision, including registering as a sex offender in the state he resides; participating in a mental health treatment program; not residing, working, accessing or loitering within 1, 000 feet of school yards, parks, playgrounds or other places primarily used by children; no contact with any minor child without being supervised by an adult family member of that child unless granted permission to do so by the probation officer; and not subscribing or accessing any online or Internet service.

         Judgment was entered January 29, 2018. Movant did not appeal. On October 9, 2018, he filed the current motion to vacate under 28 U.S.C. § 2255, which he amended a week later with the Court's permission. This action is timely.

         II. MOVANT'S CLAIMS

         Movant's § 2255 motion raises the following claims:

1. The PSR miscalculated Movant's supervised release range under the Sentencing Guidelines;
2. The standard conditions of supervised release are unreasonable;
3. The special conditions of supervised release are invalid; and
4. Defense counsel was ineffective for failing to object to the PSR's miscalculation of Movant's supervised release range under the Sentencing Guidelines.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. 28 U.S.C. § 2255

         There are four cognizable grounds upon which a federal prisoner may move to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence: (1) constitutional issues, (2) challenges to the district court's jurisdiction to impose the sentence, (3) challenges to the length of a sentence in excess of the statutory maximum, and (4) claims that the sentence is otherwise subject to collateral attack. 28 U.S.C. § 2255; United States v. Placente, 81 F.3d 555, 558 (5th Cir. 1996). “Relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2255 is reserved for transgressions of constitutional rights and for a narrow range of injuries that could not have ...


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