The Court reversed the defendant's conviction for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g), holding that the defendant was not a convicted felon under North Carolina law when he possessed firearms after receiving a "conditional discharge" for felony larceny.
The Court vacated the defendant's sentence and conviction after finding that he received ineffective assistance of counsel when trial counsel advised him that his plea would only trigger his possible deportation, where deportation was actually mandatory and the evidence reflected that the defendant would not have pleaded guilty if he knew deportation was mandatory. The Court added that the boilerplate language int he plea agreement indicating that deportation was mandatory was not dispositive.
Noting that this was an issue of first impression in this Circuit and any other, the Court held that the defendant “substantially affected” interstate commerce by assaulting the victim and interfering with the victim’s packaging and shipping of products intended for interstate commerce. The Court cited the low standard for invoking jurisdiction under the Commerce Clause, which applies to violent conduct that has even a “minimal effect” on interstate commerce.