PTSD Is Not a Get Out of Jail Free Card

By Robyn Hagan Cain on December 04, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Andrew Warren was once a “rising star” in the Central Intelligence Agency. In 2007 and 2008, the CIA assigned Warren to work as a high-level official for the United States Embassy in Algeria. During that time, he allegedly roofied and sexually-abused two women.

In 2009, the CIA terminated Warren. Later that year, he was indicted on one count of sexual abuse. When he failed to appear for a status hearing in 2010, the district court issued a bench warrant for his arrest. While searching for Warren, the government discovered that Warren’s neighbor in Norfolk, Virginia had filed a complaint that Warren had exposed himself to her.

The cops eventually tracked Warren down to a motel room in Norfolk, where he was carrying a fully-loaded semi-automatic pistol and appeared to be under the influence of drugs. Warren resisted arrest, and had to be subdued with a Taser.

He later pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact and possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Warren was sentenced to 65 months in prison. On appeal, he claimed that his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression and substance abuse issues made it substantively unreasonable for the court to sentence him to more than a brief period of incarceration, followed by treatment at a private facility.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed.

A PTSD diagnosis may mitigate criminal conduct that occurs spontaneously or unexpectedly -- for example, resisting arrest -- but Warren's conviction resulted from conduct that was planned and deliberate. (Especially the whole drugging-the-victim part.) Though 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2) requires the district court to consider "the need for the sentence imposed" and a defendant's need for medical care, the D.C. Circuit noted that the district court properly considered those factors in Warren's sentence.

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