Firearm Offenses

The Federal Docket

United States v. Ernest Vereen Jr (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court held that there is no “innocent transitory possession” defense to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The purposes and duration of a defendant’s possession of a firearm are irrelevant since § 922(g) is a general intent crime.

United States v. Terin Moss (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court vacated the defendant’s sentence after holding that a prior conviction under Georgia’s aggravated assault statute is not a “crime of violence” under the ACCA or Federal Sentencing Guidelines when the conviction is based on a simple assault with a mens rea of recklessness.

United States v. Willie Cooks (11th Cir. April 2019)

The Court held that a warrantless search of a boarded-up crawlspace in the defendant’s house was reasonable based on exigent circumstances indicating there may have been hostages in the crawlspace. Officers had just arrested the defendant after a stand-off that included hostages and during which officers heard the defendant using a power drill and were informed that the defendant was hiding something in the crawlspace.

United States v. Reginald Gibbs (11th Cir. March 2019)

The Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress finding that the traffic stop leading to the search and seizure of the defendant’s firearm was reasonable despite the officers arriving with their guns drawn and the fact that the defendant was not the driver or otherwise suspected of any criminal activity. The defendant’s brief detention was reasonable given his proximity to the car and driver, and the officers drawing their guns did not affect the legality of the stop.

United States v. Benjamin Jenkins (11th Cir. 2019) (Unpublished)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for carrying a firearm in furtherance of a drug crime under § 924(c), holding that there was sufficient evidence of the nexus between the firearm and drug trafficking given the firearm’s proximity to the drugs and proceeds, its accessibility, and the government’s evidence that drug traffickers frequently use firearms in connection with drug offenses.

United States v. Michael St. Hubert (11th Cir. November 2018)

The Court held that the defendant’s guilty plea did not waive his right to appeal his conviction on the ground that the language of his statute-of-conviction did not define an offense. The Court also held that attempted Hobbs Act Robbery is a “crime of violence” under the conduct-based approach to § 924(c) offenses recently announced in Ovalles.

United States v. Tremane Carthen, et al. (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the convictions of two defendants who were sentenced under § 924(c), holding that the district court did not err in admitting hearsay testimony from a co-conspirator or in excluding specific instances of the co-conspirators prior lies to impeach him, and that the mandatory sentencing scheme in § 924(c) was constitutional.

Irma Ovalles v. United States (11th Cir. October 2018)

On remand after the Court’s en banc decision in Ovalles, the panel held that Ms. Ovalles’s attempted car-jacking was a “crime of violence” under § 924(c)(3)(A)’s elements clause, as it requires that a defendant have an intent to cause death or bodily harm and that he take a substantial step towards commission of that crime.

Irma Ovalles v. United States (11th Cir. 2018), EN BANC

The Court held that the residual clause of § 924(c), which defines a “crime of violence,” was not void-for-vagueness after invoking the canon of constitutional doubt to support a narrower reading of the provision, one that qualifies a defendant’s offense as a “crime of violence” based on the defendant’s underlying conduct in that offense.

United States v. Lonnie Anthony Jones (11th Cir. October 2018)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence after holding that defendant’s prior second-degree murder conviction was a “violent felony” under the ACCA’s elements clause.

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