Argued: May 10, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of North Carolina, at Wilmington. James C. Fox,
Senior District Judge. (7:06-cr-00050-F-3)
Jennifer Claire Leisten, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL PUBLIC
DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.
Russell Pender, OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY,
Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellee.
P. McNamara, Federal Public Defender, OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL
PUBLIC DEFENDER, Raleigh, North Carolina, for Appellant.
Stuart Bruce, Acting United States Attorney, Jennifer P.
May-Parker, Assistant United States Attorney, OFFICE OF THE
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY, Raleigh, North Carolina, for
GREGORY, Chief Judge, and SHEDD and WYNN, Circuit Judges.
GREGORY, CHIEF JUDGE.
Lacresha Janelle Slappy appeals her thirty-six month
sentence, which the district court imposed after revoking
Slappy's term of supervised release. Slappy argues that
her revocation sentence is plainly unreasonable because the
district court failed to address her nonfrivolous arguments
in favor of a within-range sentence or to sufficiently
explain why it imposed the statutory maximum sentence. We
agree, and for the reasons that follow, we vacate
Slappy's revocation sentence and remand for resentencing.
2006, Slappy pleaded guilty to armed bank robbery and aiding
and abetting, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2113(a) and
(d) and § 2. On July 18, 2007, the district court
sentenced Slappy to 107 months of imprisonment, followed by
five years of supervised release, as well as $16, 192 in
restitution. Slappy served her term of imprisonment, and on
September 30, 2014, she began serving her term of supervised
February 2015, Slappy's probation officer filed a
Petition for Action on Supervised Release, which stated that
Slappy had violated the terms of her supervised release by
submitting urine screens that on two occasions tested
positive for the use of cocaine. J.A. 21. According to the
Petition, Slappy stated that she was having a hard time
adjusting to her release from prison and bonding with her
children. J.A. 21. She was otherwise in compliance with the
terms of her release by participating in a Relapse Prevention
Group, seeing a therapist weekly to address substance abuse
and mental health issues, and making regular payments on her
restitution. J.A. 21, 29. The district court ordered Slappy
to serve a weekend in prison and participate in a cognitive
October 27, 2015, Slappy's probation officer submitted an
Amended Motion for Revocation on Offender Under Term of
Supervised Release, alleging that Slappy committed the
following violations: (1) engaged in criminal conduct
(arrested for theft of a pair of shoes from a Nordstrom in
Baltimore County, Maryland, and released on bond); (2) failed
to report for seven urine screens; (3) used a controlled
substance (marijuana); (4) left the judicial district without
permission (based on Maryland theft charge); and (5)
absconded from supervision (probation officer could not reach
Slappy by phone or at her residence for three weeks). J.A.
revocation hearing, Slappy did not contest violations one,
two, or five, and admitted violations three and four. J.A.
27. Although the Government began to proffer evidence of all
five alleged violations, the court stated, "I'm not
going to find that she's violated but 3 and 4." J.A.
29. The parties agreed that violations three and four were
both Grade C violations with a recommended sentence of seven
to thirteen months of imprisonment under the Sentencing
Guidelines' Chapter Seven policy statements, and that the
statutory maximum sentence was thirty-six months of
imprisonment. J.A. 29, 32; see also U.S. Sentencing
Guidelines Manual § 7B1.4(a) (U.S. Sentencing Comm'n
requested a revocation sentence of thirteen months of
imprisonment, followed by termination of her supervised
release, based on her post-incarceration conduct and attempts
at rehabilitation. J.A. 29-31. As she explained at the
revocation hearing, following her release from custody on her
107-month sentence, she resided in a halfway house and worked
at a fast food restaurant. J.A. 30. She also participated in
New Hanover's Scared Straight program, which allowed her
to share her experiences with the youths in the program. J.A.
30. According to Slappy's counsel, the director of the
program said Slappy was quite effective, and that he gave her
a lot of autonomy and would bring her the "hardened
youth . . . because she seems to be able to get through to
them." J.A. 30. And a local news station interviewed
Slappy for a documentary on prostitution and female drug
users. J.A. 30. All of this, her counsel argued, helped
Slappy gain "a lot of insight" and "start to
look over her own life to figure out what [she] can do
better, " and that ultimately, "the fact that
she's contributing to society in this way certainly shows
us that she has." J.A. 30-31. Slappy addressed the court
and explained that she had only left Wilmington because she
felt she was in some danger, and that when she tried to
explain that to her probation officer, she was not taken
seriously. She said she otherwise would not have left,
because she "was doing good." J.A. 31.
Government asked the court to impose the statutory maximum
sentence of thirty-six months of imprisonment. The Government
recounted Slappy's criminal history, including three
convictions for assault, one conviction for communicating a
threat, a "resist, delay, and obstruct" conviction,
and one conviction for raising a false fire alarm after she
pulled a prison fire alarm and activated the sprinkler
system. J.A. 32. The Government also recounted at length the
conduct underlying her bank robbery conviction, for which
Slappy was then serving the term of supervised release.
Government further noted that when this bank robbery
occurred, Slappy already had thirteen state convictions, had
violated her probation five times, and had committed some of
her crimes while out on bond for prior charges. And, the
Government added, the five violations at issue all occurred
less than a year after her release from her 107-month
sentence on the bank robbery conviction. J.A. 33. The
Government argued that "[b]ased on [Slappy's]
history and characteristics, " as well as "the need
to protect the public from any further crimes of the
defendant, and the need to promote the ...