2d 766, 100 S. Ct. 2051 (1980)). If that language is clear and unambiguous, a court need look no further unless that meaning produces a result "demonstrably at odds with the intentions of its drafters." Id. Section 3565, on its face, refers to "the original sentence," it does not refer to the maximum sentence that the district court could have imposed. Such basic statutory construction could end the inquiry.
Moreover, this simple analysis is bolstered by reading the statute in context. Cf. Kokoszka v. Belford, 417 U.S. 642, 650, 41 L. Ed. 2d 374, 94 S. Ct. 2431 (1974) (stating that a particular clause must be read in connection with the whole statute). Immediately preceding the controversial language in the statute is section 3565(a)(2), which provides that, if a defendant generally violates probation, the district court may "revoke the sentence of probation and impose any other sentence that was available under subchapter A at the time of the initial sentence. 18 U.S.C. sec. 3565(a)(2) (emphasis added). Immediately succeeding the controversial language is section 3565(b), which similarly provides that, if a defendant is in actual possession of a firearm while serving probation, the district court "shall . . . revoke the sentence of probation and impose any other sentence that was available under subchapter A at the time of the initial sentencing. " 18 U.S.C. sec. 3565(b) (emphasis added); see Clay, 982 F.2d at 963. Clearly had Congress intended "the original sentence" to mean anything other than the actual sentence imposed, it knew how to say so.
The plain meaning of the statute and a reading of the statute in context, therefore, support the position that the term "the original sentence," within the meaning of section 3565 means the sentence actually imposed on the defendant. In fact, the rule of lenity would appear to mandate this result. This rule prohibits a court from interpreting "a federal criminal statute so as to increase the penalty that it places on an individual when such an interpretation can be based on no more than a guess as to what Congress intended." Ladner v. United States, 358 U.S. 169, 178, 3 L. Ed. 2d 199, 79 S. Ct. 209 (1958) (quoted in Clay, 982 F.2d at 965).
In a typical case, but not always, the sentence actually imposed will be less than the maximum allowable by the guidelines. The rule of lenity, therefore, dictates that the court look to the sentence actually imposed. For example, Hooker received two years probation. Under this reading, she would receive a minimum of eight months incarceration (one-third of twenty-four months).
Despite this seemingly straightforward result, the rule of lenity actually compels the opposite conclusion. Take, for example, the facts of Gordon. 961 F.2d at 428. Defendant pleaded guilty to violating 18 U.S.C. § 1703, admitting that she removed a check from the mail while a United States Postal worker. Under the guidelines, she could have received a sentence of zero to four months incarceration. The district court, instead, sentenced Gordon to three years probation. Gordon subsequently violated her probation by possessing a controlled substance. The district court, invoking section 3565, sentenced her to one year incarceration (one-third of three years) for violating her probation. This resulted in Gordon being sentenced to three times the maximum sentence for her underlying offense merely for violating her probation. This result violates not only the rule of lenity, but all notions of common sense as well. See Clay, 982 F.2d at 962-63 (recognizing that the "natural" reading of § 3565 could "defy common sense"). But see Sosa, 997 F.2d at 1134 (recognizing, but accepting, the "harshness of this interpretation").
This Court cannot espouse logic that might produce such a result. In fact, in the context of a "sentence" of probation, this may often be the result, and the Court cannot apply diametrically opposite logic depending upon the results of a particular case.
The Court must be consistent in its construction of a particular statute. As a result, the Court will interpret the phrase "the original sentence" in section 3565 to mean the maximum sentence that could have been imposed at the time of sentence.
For Hooker, this interpretation means that, if the Court finds that she possessed a controlled substance, she must be sentenced to twenty-six months (one-third of seventy-eight months) incarceration.
Returning to the mandate of the Circuit Court, if this Court does not find that Hooker violated a "specific probation condition," but rather makes "a general finding of a probation violation," section 3565 and the required minimum twenty-six months' sentence is not triggered and the Court retains discretion in imposing a sentence on Hooker. At the probation revocation hearing, Hooker testified that she met with her probation officer Mr. Thomas in March 1992. Oct. 21, 1992, Tr. at 16. She told Mr. Thomas that she "caught [someone) smoking in my home." Id. The questioning continued as follows:
Q: Didn't he tell you, though, that if there were drugs in that house, that you should get away from that house?
A: Yes, he did. That's why I went and got a job, trying to, you know, get out.