Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

United States v. Hobgood

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

August 22, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
James Daniel Hobgood, Defendant-Appellant.

          Submitted: April 7, 2017

         Appeal from United States District Court for the Western District of Arkansas - Fayetteville

          Before COLLOTON and BENTON, Circuit Judges, and GERRARD, [1] District Judge.

          COLLOTON, Circuit Judge.

         James Daniel Hobgood conditionally pleaded guilty to interstate stalking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2). Hobgood appeals an order of the district court[2]denying his motion to dismiss the indictment. He argues that the statute cannot be applied to his conduct without violating the First Amendment. He also disputes the amount of restitution ordered at sentencing. We reject the contentions and affirm the judgment of the district court.

         I.

         Hobgood and the government stipulated to the following facts. In September 2014, KB met Hobgood and had a brief romantic relationship with him in Richmond, Virginia. KB began rebuffing Hobgood's advances, and in January 2015, she moved to Arkansas. KB alleges that Hobgood, still living in Richmond, began contacting her via e-mail, Facebook messages, and third-party text messages to demand that she apologize to him in person for her treatment of him. KB did not do so.

         KB alleges that Hobgood then created publicly accessible social media accounts in which he portrayed KB as an exotic dancer and prostitute. Hobgood also sent letters to KB's employer through the mail and over the Internet claiming that KB was an exotic dancer and prostitute. Hobgood contacted KB and KB's family by email, stating that unless she apologized to him, he would continue to make these representations. According to KB, Hobgood's actions caused her substantial emotional distress and contributed to her need for short-term hospitalization.

         Law enforcement investigators eventually contacted Hobgood about his conduct. Hobgood admitted sending KB, her family, and her employer communications by e-mail, telephone, and mail, in which he stated that KB was an exotic dancer. Hobgood told investigators that he would not stop contacting KB until he caused her to lose her job, or caused her to "repent" for the unspecified wrong that she committed against him. Investigators also were able to corroborate that Hobgood was responsible for the publicly accessible social media accounts that portrayed KB as an exotic dancer and prostitute.

         In October 2015, a grand jury charged Hobgood with interstate stalking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2). Before trial, Hobgood moved to dismiss the indictment. He argued that § 2261A(2), as applied to him, violated the First Amendment. The district court denied the motion. The court concluded that because Hobgood's communications also violated the extortion statute, 18 U.S.C. § 875(d), they constituted "speech . . . integral to criminal conduct" that could be restricted without violating the First Amendment. See Giboney v. Empire Storage & Ice Co., 336 U.S. 490, 498 (1949); United States v. Petrovic, 701 F.3d 849, 855-56 (8th Cir. 2012).

         Hobgood conditionally pleaded guilty to interstate stalking, reserving the right to appeal the district court's denial of the motion to dismiss. The court sentenced him to a term of imprisonment of 12 months and 1 day. The court also ordered Hobgood to pay KB $2, 387.91 in restitution.

         II.

         Hobgood first challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss. He renews the argument that his communications to KB and others were protected speech under the First Amendment. He contends, therefore, that his conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 2261A(2) based on that speech infringes on his constitutional rights. Hobgood reasons that the conviction constitutes an impermissible content-based restriction of speech.

         Generally speaking, the First Amendment forbids the government from restricting speech because of its content. United States v. Stevens, 559 U.S. 460, 468 (2010). But content-based restrictions are permitted "in a few limited areas." Id. at 468 (quotation omitted). One such area or category is "speech integral to criminal conduct." Id. (citing Giboney, 336 U.S. at 498). The district court concluded that Hobgood's communications to KB and to others were unprotected speech integral to criminal conduct, because the communications were integral to the crime of extortion under 18 U.S.C. ยง ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.