DO NOT PUBLISH
Christopher Bowen Balfrey appeals the 151-month sentence he received after pleading guilty to weapons and drug-trafficking charges. After careful review, we affirm.
On February 8, 2016, Christopher Balfrey pled guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(C), and 846; two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1) and 924(e); and one count of possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).
The presentence investigation report ("PSR") determined Balfrey should be sentenced as a career offender because of his prior Florida felony convictions for robbery and delivery of cocaine.
At sentencing, the district court adopted the PSR's calculation of Balfrey's guideline range. Balfrey argued for a below-guideline sentence "in the range of 10 years or less." Balfrey said his career-offender status overstated his actual criminal history and risk of recidivism because he was a minor when he committed both of the prior felonies that resulted in these convictions. In response, the government argued for a sentence of 151-months imprisonment plus the 60-month consecutive term required under § 924(c). The government emphasized that Balfrey was not a "low level dealer" and is "a violent person," as evidenced by his prior conviction for robbery. The government also mentioned Balfrey's refusal to enter into a plea agreement or otherwise cooperate with the government. The government said that Balfrey's decision not to cooperate is the reason "why . . . [he is] looking at the guideline terms that he is." The district court then continued the sentencing for several weeks to allow Balfrey a chance to reconsider whether he wanted to cooperate with the government.
When sentencing resumed, Balfrey told the court he still did not wish to cooperate with the government. Balfrey's counsel stressed that Balfrey did not want the court to think he had been insincere in reconsidering whether to cooperate. In response to this, the district court said:
The court then proceeded with sentencing. The court "considered the [sentencing] factors at 18 U.S.C. [§] 3553." The court found that Balfrey's convictions were for "serious offenses that represent an example of a serious and persistent form of conduct that threatens the community." But the court also recognized that Balfrey's only prior convictions were for crimes he committed "as a younger person," and that he "had some number of adult years of improved conduct" since committing those earlier crimes. In light of these "extenuating circumstances," the court sentenced Balfrey to a below-guideline sentence of 91 months, plus the 60-month mandatory consecutive term, for a total sentence of 151-months imprisonment.
Balfrey first argues the district court erred in finding that his prior Florida conviction for robbery, Fla Stat. § 812.13(1), is a predicate offense for the career-offender enhancement. As Balfrey acknowledges, he did not raise this objection below, so our review is for plain error.
This Court has already considered whether Florida robbery constitutes a "crime of violence" for purposes of the career-offender enhancement, and we held that it does.
In arguing that Florida robbery is not a "crime of violence," Balfrey cites the Supreme Court's decision in
Next, Balfrey argues his sentence is both procedurally and substantively unreasonable. We review the reasonableness of a sentence for an abuse of discretion.
Balfrey says his sentence was procedurally unreasonable because the district court, in determining his sentence, took his failure to cooperate with the government into consideration. The record shows otherwise. In discussing Balfrey's decision not to cooperate, the district court expressly said: "I give no consideration to any of it one way or the other." But, even if the district court had considered Balfrey's refusal to cooperate, this Court has held that "a court is absolutely entitled to consider a defendant's failure to cooperate at the time of sentencing."
Finally, Balfrey challenges his sentence on the ground that it was substantively unreasonable. The district court must "impose a sentence sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes" listed in 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2), including the need to reflect the seriousness of the offense, deter criminal conduct, and protect the public from the defendant. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2). In imposing a particular sentence, the court must also consider the nature and circumstances of the offense, and the history and characteristics of the defendant, among other things.
Balfrey says his sentence is substantively unreasonable because the district court failed to properly consider the fact that his prior offenses were committed when he was a teenager and he had no criminal activity for ten years after those offenses early in his life.
Because the district court did consider these mitigating factors, Balfrey is essentially arguing that the district court did not accord enough weight to them. However, the weight given to any particular factor under § 3553(a) is "committed to the sound discretion of the district court."