United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit - 14 F.2d 5
In Riggs v. United States (1926), L.J. Riggs, a convicted bootlegger, sued the government for violating his constitutional rights when they revoked his probation and sent him to prison. This case was heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Riggs had previously pleaded guilty to two charges related to illegal liquor sales, and the court had suspended his sentencing and placed him on probation for four years.
However, after a year, Riggs was reported to be participating in more illegal liquor activities. The court then revoked his probation and sentenced him to two years in prison for each charge, to be served consecutively. Riggs appealed, arguing the court had no authority to revoke his probation after the term expired and that he wasn't given due process.
The Court of Appeals upheld the decision, stating that the trial court had jurisdiction to revoke probation and impose a sentence at any time during the probation period. This case is important because it demonstrates how courts interpret the federal probation statute enacted in 1925 as an alternative to imprisonment. It also balances public safety and rehabilitation interests in probation cases and determines whether due process rights are violated in probation revocation proceedings.
The appellants were convicted of conspiracy to possess and possession with intent to distribute cocaine. Borges argued insufficient evidence, but the court found his argument without merit. Rosado argued that the government failed to prove the type of cocaine involved, but the court found this argument also without merit. Borges arranged for the sale of cocaine and was present during a conversation regarding the purchase of cocaine. Rosado argued that only "L" cocaine is illegal, but the court found this claim unsubstantiated. The convictions were affirmed, but the case was remanded for the correction of Rosado's sentence. The legal principle that a defendant is guilty of substantive acts committed by any of their criminal partners once their knowing participation in a conspiracy has been established beyond a reasonable doubt has been repeatedly applied in drug conspiracy cases.
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