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United States v. Vallery

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
437 F.3d 626 (2006)


The federal government (plaintiff) obtained a grand jury's indictment of Roosevelt Vallery (defendant), a federal prison inmate, after Vallery pushed a prison guard in order to escape from a strip search for contraband. The indictment closely tracked the language of § 111(a)(1) in Title 18 U.S.C., Chapter 7 ("Assault"), which prohibits knowingly and forcibly assaulting, resisting, opposing, impeding, intimidating, or interfering with a federal officer in the performance of his official duties. However, the indictment omitted any allegation that Vallery had physical contact with his victim, and therefore the judge ruled that Vallery was on trial only for misdemeanor simple assault. The jury found Vallery guilty of resisting, impeding, and interfering with the guard's performance of his duties, and the judge sentenced Vallery to the maximum misdemeanor penalty of 12 months' imprisonment. The government appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, contending that the judge should have imposed the felony penalty of between 51 and 63 months' imprisonment. The government argued that an allegation or proof of physical contact was relevant only to the "assault prong" of § 111(a)(1), and that because 18 U.S.C. § 111(a)(2) made all assaults other than simple assault punishable as felonies, the indictment's failure to allege physical contact did not preclude sentencing Vallery as a felon for having resisted, impeded, and impaired the guard.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Kanne, J.)

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