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Successive Revoked Sentences do not Count Toward Maximum

By Tanya Roth, Esq. | Last updated on

Do numerous consecutive sentences add up to the statutory maximum, if each prior sentence is revoked? Or does the court start the tally over, after each revocation?

In U.S. v. Williams, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals reviewed the prison sentence of a woman who had been accused of bank robbery. The defendant claimed that her sentence exceeded the statutory maximum. During the course of her incarceration and supervised release, there had been several modifications made to the sentence, largely due to her failure to comply with the terms of her supervised release. As a result, the combined number of months she spent in prison was 25 months, which she claimed was over the 24-month limit.

Here's a primer on the facts:

After being sentenced to 48 months in jail, the defendant began a three-year term of supervised release. Subsequently, she was charged with violations of the conditions of her release. As a result, the conditions of her supervised release were modified and her release now included four months at a halfway house. Several months after the modifications to her release, the District Court, subsequent to a hearing, revoked her supervised release and sentenced her to five months in prison and 31 months of supervised release.

Again, she was charged with violating the conditions of her supervised release and back to jail she went, followed by more supervised release. The pattern continued.

She argued that the aggregate prison sentence exceeded the maximum allowable sentence. The Third Circuit, however, held that the statutory maximum for sentencing can be freshly imposed upon each revocation of sentence.

In reaching its decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals relied on legislative history and a contextual analysis of the statute, finding that the maximum allowable sentence could be imposed on each successive revocation of the prior sentence.

In summary, the maximum court sentence, in cases involving several revocations of sentencing, can be newly imposed each time.

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