Fourth Circuit Vacates Sentence Despite Anders Brief
United States v. Carter, No. 21-4689 (4th Cir. 2023)
Carter pled guilty to bank fraud and aggravated identity theft pursuant to a plea agreement. The district court sentenced carter to 87 months imprisonment and five years of supervised release. On appeal. Carter’s counsel filed a brief pursuant to Anders v. California, stating that there were no meritorious grounds for appeal but questioning the validity of Carter’s guilty plea based on ineffective assistance of counsel, the reasonableness of Carter’s sentence, and whether the court erred in ordering forfeiture and restitution.
The government moved to dismiss the appeal based on the waiver contained in Carter’s plea agreement. However, the Fourth Circuit denied the government’s motion to dismiss and, in accordance with Anders, conducted a de novo review. The Fourth Circuit found a meritorious issue that fell outside the scope of the appeal waiver-the district court issued a non-mandatory condition of supervised release that was included in the written judgment but not orally pronounced at sentencing.
The Fourth Circuit previously held in United States v. Singletary, 984 F.3d 341 (4th Cir. 2021), that a challenge to discretionary supervised release terms that are not orally pronounced at sentencing fall outside the scope of an appeal waiver because the discretionary condition that appears for the first time in a written judgment has not yet been imposed on the defendant.
Because the district court failed to announce a non-mandatory condition of supervised release that was later included in written judgment, the Fourth Circuit concluded that the proper remedy was a full resentencing hearing. Accordingly, Carter’s sentence was vacated and remanded back to the district court for a new sentencing hearing.