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United States v. Wills

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 8, 2018




         This matter comes before the Court upon the application of the United States that Defendant, Derrick Wills, be detained pending trial pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142. Defendant is charged by indictment with one count of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1), one count of unlawful possession with intent to distribute marijuana in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1) and 841(b)(1)(D), and one count of using, carrying, and possessing a firearm during a drug trafficking offense in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1). The Court held a detention hearing on May 7, 2018. At the conclusion of that hearing and upon consideration of the proffers and arguments of counsel and the entire record herein, the Court ordered Defendant held without bond. This memorandum is submitted in compliance with the statutory obligation that “the judicial officer shall . . . include written findings of fact and a written statement of the reasons for the detention.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(i)(1).


         At the detention hearing, the United States proceeded by proffer based on the indictment. The defense offered no contrary evidence on the merits of the offense, nor challenged the government's factual proffer. Accordingly, the Court makes the following findings of fact regarding the government's allegations.

         At approximately 5:00 p.m. on February 9, 2018, four uniformed members of the Metropolitan Police Department were in a police vehicle patrolling the 2300 block of Good Hope Court in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. They observed Defendant and two other individuals near an adjacent parking lot. Defendant had been walking toward the parking lot, but when he saw the officers, he stopped, turned around, and started walking quickly in the opposite direction. Officers left the vehicle to make contact with Defendant, who fled while clutching the waistband of his pants with his right hand in a manner consistent with a person securing an object in the waistband.

         An officer pursued Defendant but briefly lost sight of him when he rounded a corner. While Defendant was out of the officer's sight, the officer heard the sound of a metallic object hitting a hard surface, such as the side of a building or the ground. When he regained visual contact with Defendant, the officer observed him retracting his arm as if he had just tossed something. Defendant continued to run, but no longer held the waistband of his pants. The pursuing officer soon apprehended Defendant.

         After detaining Defendant, officers searched the area for a firearm. An individual (who preferred to remain anonymous) stated that she saw Defendant throw a gun into the bushes. A few minutes later, officers retrieved a FNH USA Model FNX-9 handgun with one round in the chamber and nine rounds in the seventeen-round magazine from the bushes the individual had indicated, which were also directly in front of the building where the officer heard the clang of metal hitting concrete and observed the follow-through of Defendant's tossing motion. Upon searching Defendant, officers discovered three separate sandwich bags containing a total of just over three ounces of a green leafy substance that field-tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Defendant denied having a firearm, but admitted that he fled because he was carrying the marijuana. Defendant was arrested and charged in D.C. Superior Court, where he was held without bond. He was later indicted in this Court on the three charges outlined above, and the local case was dismissed.

         B. Defendant's Criminal History

         On August 9, 2013, Defendant was convicted of robbery with a dangerous weapon and use of a handgun during a crime of violence. He was sentenced to a term of five years imprisonment and five years of supervised release. Defendant was under supervision for those crimes when he was arrested in this case.


         The Bail Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 3142 et seq., provides, in pertinent part, that if a judicial officer finds by clear and convincing evidence that “no condition or combination of conditions will reasonably assure the appearance of the person as required and the safety of any other person and the community, such judicial officer shall order the detention of the [defendant] before trial.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(e). Thus, even if a defendant is not considered a flight risk, his or her danger to the community alone is sufficient reason to order pretrial detention, and vice versa. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 755 (1987); United States v. Perry, 788 F.2d 100, 113 (3d Cir. 1986); United States v. Sazenski, 806 F.2d 846, 848 (8th Cir. 1986). Where the judicial officer's justification for detention is premised upon the safety of the community, the decision must be supported by “clear and convincing evidence.” 18 U.S.C. § 3142(f)(2). Where the justification for detention is risk of flight, the decision must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence. See United States v. Simpkins, 826 F.2d 94, 96 (D.C. Cir. 1987).


         A. Application of the Section 3142(g) Factors

         Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g), the four factors that a court must consider in making a bond determination are: (1) the nature and circumstances of the offense; (2) the weight of the evidence against the defendant; (3) the history and characteristics of the defendant; and (4) the nature and seriousness of the danger to any person or the community that would be posed by the defendant's release. 18 U.S.C. § 3142(g). Addressing those ...

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