Nearing the end of a long sentence for tax related crimes, Hovind was convicted on March 12, 2015 for contempt of court. The more recent conviction arose out of filings that might have interfered with the government's sale of property seized in relation to the earlier conviction. The jury hung on more serious fraud and conspiracy charges, which Hovind and his supporters view as a victory.
Not Such A Bad Outcome
On the eve of the Kent Hovind trial, I had a sense that things were not going to end well. As it turns the trial ended about as well as it could. Kent Hovind was found guilty of contempt of court and the jury could not reach a verdict on more serious fraud and conspiracy charges. There is some indication that might have been due to a single holdout, but that is not definitive.
What About The Sentence?
Sentencing is scheduled for June 12. Unlike most federal crimes contempt of court does not have a statutory maximum sentence. Even when there are statutory limits, federal sentencing is governed by a pretty arcane set of rules, Judges must be prepared to justify deviation from the United States Sentencing Commission Guidelines Manual
There is a table in the manual with a matrix. The rows are the basic offense level (There are 43) and the columns are "Criminal history category" (There are 6). The criminal history category is determined by "points". Category I is 0 to 1 points, Category II is 2 or 3 points and so on up to Category VI which is 13 or more points.
There is not a base offense level for contempt, but we do have this commentary.
In General.—Because misconduct constituting contempt varies significantly and the nature of the contemptuous conduct, the circumstances under which the contempt was committed, the effect the misconduct had on the administration of justice, and the need to vindicate the authority of the court are highly context-dependent, the Commission has not provided a specific guideline for this offense. In certain cases, the offense conduct will be sufficiently analogous to §2J1.2 (Obstruction of Justice) for that guideline to apply.The basic offense level for obstruction is 14. Category I calls for a range of 15 to 21 months and Category VI is 37 to 46.
How many points does Kent have? As far as I can tell and there may be arcana that I am missing, his previous conviction gives him 3 points. He gets another 2 points for committing the "instant offense" while under sentence for the previous offense. That puts him in Category III which on an offense level of 14 works out to 21 to 27 months.
I ran that by my federal criminal expert. There are some circumstances involved which might bump the offense level up to 17, which in Category III means 31 to 37 months.
He cautioned that the guidelines are, in fact, guidelines, but believes that the judge has a strong incentive to stay within them.
However, keep in mind that under the Booker regime, the Guidelines are just Guidelines. The judge can sentence Hovind to whatever sentence she thinks appropriate regardless of the Guidelines calculation. She can sentence within the Guidelines range or outside the range (either below or above).So my mostly arbitrary guess is that Hovind will be sentenced to two years. It would be extraordinary if he gets much more than three..
My guess is that, because of all the commotion about her and the case, she may be tempted to stay within the Guidelines so as to avoid a claim of skullduggery on her part. She can fall back on the Guidelines (the devil made her do it, but in this case the devil is the Guidelines). And, if she does, the sentence will be virtually bullet-proof on appeal. Another reason for her to stay within the Guidelines is that, given his behavior, she would not likely even consider a downward Booker variance. If anything, it might be an upward Booker variance and the YEC crowd would go crazy.
The exception to the immediately preceding paragraph is if she thinks some elements of the Guidelines are unfair. She might vary downward to some extent to correct for that perceived unfairness.
Another Shoe To Drop?
Remember there were four charges and Hovind was not acquitted on any of them. I didn't think it likely that the government would take the trouble to retry him, but that opinion was based on, well, nothing. My expert did not agree.
Peter, each case is considered on its own based on the individual factors and, in this case, concern that the tax crazies would take comfort in a hung jury followed by no re-trial. The crazies might even consider that a victory for the crazies. The Government does not want that message that might be misconstrued. So, I suspect that the likelihood of a retrial is well above 70%.I'm going to stick with my no retrial view on the hope that me thinking that will help it be that way. I don't think I could stand another one.