Tuten v. United States - 460 U.S. 660 (1983)
U.S. Supreme Court
Tuten v. United States, 460 U.S. 660 (1983)
Tuten v. United States
Argued March 1, 1983
Decided March 30, 1983
460 U.S. 660
In 1971, petitioner, who was then 19 years old, pleaded guilty to the charge of carrying a pistol without a license in violation of a provision of the District of Columbia Code and was placed on probation for two years under § 5010(a) of the Federal Youth Corrections Act (YCA). At the end of the 2-year probationary period, he was unconditionally discharged from the YCA program. In 1980, petitioner was again convicted of carrying a pistol without a license under the same provision of the District of Columbia Code, and was sentenced to imprisonment as a felon, rather than a misdemeanant, under the recidivist provision of the Code. The District of Columbia Court of Appeals affirmed, rejecting petitioner's contention that his earlier conviction could not properly provide the basis for his being sentenced as a recidivist because, following his successful completion of the 2-year probationary term, that conviction had been expunged under § 5021(b) of the YCA, which provides that, where a youth offender has been placed on probation, the court may thereafter, in its discretion,
"unconditionally discharge such youth offender from probation prior to the expiration of the maximum period of probation theretofore fixed by the court, which discharge shall automatically set aside the conviction."
Held: Under the interpretation of § 5021(b) plainly suggested by its language, the conviction of a youth offender placed on probation under § 5010(a) is not set aside where, as here, the court has not exercised its discretion to discharge him unconditionally "prior to the expiration of the maximum period of probation theretofore fixed by the court." This limitation is fully consistent with the YCA's rehabilitation purposes, as well as with Congress' intent to employ the set-aside as an incentive for positive behavior by youths sentenced under the YCA. Accordingly, the trial court was free to take petitioner's previous conviction into account in imposing sentence under the recidivist provision of the District of Columbia Code. Pp. 460 U. S. 663-668.
440 A.2d 1008, affirmed.
MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.