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Seventh Circuit Rules Failure to Issue Summons or Warrant Means Supervised Release Not Tolled While Merely in Custody

by Anthony Accurso

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that, where a defendant is detained prior to the expiration of his supervised release, he must be released when his supervision expires unless the court orders a warrant or summons, not merely a detention order.

William Block was convicted for wire fraud and given a sentence that included three years’ supervised release and a condition that he “shall not solicit money for ANY purpose.” He began his supervision April 14, 2014, and the court was notified that he had violated the solicitation condition in December 2015. The court held a hearing of admonishment in February 2016, essentially telling him not to do it again.

On February 3, 2017, the Probation Officer (“PO”) reported eight more violations of this condition. At a statutory maximum of 24 months per violation, the PO recommended a revocation sentence of 192 months. However, because Block’s supervision was set to expire in April 2017, the PO recommended the court issue a summons to Block regarding the revocation.

At a status hearing on Feb. 28, 2017, Block was ordered detained, but no summons (or warrant) was issued. Over a year later, in May 2018, the court imposed a revocation sentence of 60 months in prison and 24 months’ supervision.

Block appealed, arguing the court had no jurisdiction to revoke after his supervision expired in April 2017. On appeal, the Government argued that Block’s term of supervision was tolled when the court ordered him detained pending his revocation.

The Court of Appeals first determined that, based on the language of 18 U.S.C. § 3583(e)(3) and United States v. Johnson, 529 U.S. 53 (2000), a “term of supervised release can be served, in whole or part, in prison.” Thus, Block’s detention could be a part of his supervision and is not automatically the beginning of his revocation. Next, the Court read the language of § 3583(i) requiring a “warrant or summons” to mean more than mere detention. The Government argued “constructive summonses and a constructive warrant” were issued when Block was ordered detained pending his revocation. However, the Court determined that the definition of “warrant” and summons” require that the district court order Block be “arrested and [brought] before the court” to “appear and answer” for revocation and that the district court failed to do so. Thus, Block’s supervision was not tolled and did, in fact, expire before the district court revoked it, and as a result, “the court lacked jurisdiction to revoke” Block’s supervised release, concluded the Court.

Accordingly, the Court vacated the judgment of the district court in the revocation of Block’s supervised release (he was freed by order of the Court in April 2019). See: United States v. Block, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18533 (7th Cir. 2019). 

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Related legal case

United States v. Block



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