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  • United States v. WilliamsUnited States v. Williams
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United States v. Williams

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
841 F.3d 656 (2016)


The federal government (plaintiff) charged Ernest Lee Williams, Jr., (defendant) with attempting to enter a bank with felonious and larcenous intent, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a). Section 2113(a) could be violated either by robbing or burgling a bank. Williams pleaded guilty to the charges, admitting that he entered a bank with the intention of ordering the teller to turn over the bank's money. Williams was unarmed. The teller thought she recognized Williams from a previous robbery and called the police. Williams fled but was later arrested. Williams asked the judge to apply the sentencing guideline for burglary, U.S.S.G. § 2B2.1, because he neither used nor threatened the use of force in committing his crime. However, the judge sentenced Williams under the more severe robbery guideline, § 2B3.1. In explaining his decision, the judge emphasized that unlike the burglary guideline, § 2B3.1 provided an enhanced penalty for Williams's having targeted a financial institution (the "Bank Enhancement"). Williams appealed his sentence to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. The government countered by citing two cases in which the convicted defendant could be sentenced under either of two guidelines.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Floyd, J.)

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