By: Ashley Collette & Evan Reid
A Mexican citizen present in the United States without authorization pled guilty to sexual solicitation of a minor. The Board of Immigration Appeals determined that this offense was a crime involving moral turpitude and ordered him removed from the United States. In doing so, the Board departed from its rule “that an offense must require proof of a culpable mental state as to the victim’s age to qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude.” The Board did not adequately explain its reasoning for “abandon[ing] the requirement of mental culpability as to a victim’s age”, and thus the Fourth Circuit held its decision was arbitrary and capricious. The case was remanded for a more adequate explanation.
In this criminal case, the defendant, Taison McCollum, appealed the district court’s decision applying a sentence enhancement based on his prior conviction for conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering under 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5) after McCollum pled guilty to the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The Fourth Circuit reluctantly vacated the judgment of the district court and remanded the case back to the district court for resentencing. In holding that the district court erred in enhancing McCollum’s sentence, the Fourth Circuit followed the Supreme Court precedent in Taylor v. United States, which held “an enhanced sentence is lawful only if the prior conviction necessarily establishes that the defendant ‘has been found guilty of all the elements’ of the enumerated offense” because the crime of conspiracy under § 1959(a)(5) does not require an overt act and thus is broader than generic conspiracy.