Firearm Offenses

The Federal Docket

DOJ Charges 14,200 People with Firearms Offenses in 2020

October 13, 2020. The Department of Justice announced today that it has charged over 14,200 people with various kinds of firearms offenses in 2020, with potentially more to come.The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta announced that its office brought in at least 336 of the 14,200 firearms cases, and the charges include possession of a firearm by someone in a prohibited class (such as felon, illegal alien, or drug user), possession of a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime of drug trafficking offense (924(c)), unlawful purchase of a firearm, and false statements in connection with registering a firearm with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, such as by lying on an ATF Form.

United States v. Manndrell Evann Lee (6th Cir. September 2020)

The Sixth Circuit under abuse of discretion vacated the defendant’s sentence and remanded for resentencing, holding that upward variance applied by the district court based on the defendant’s criminal history was unreasonable because it applied too much weight to a prior conviction and parole violations from the same offense. The Court also held that it was the defendant’s first firearm offense, a 15-year gap existed from prior dangerous conduct, and compared to similar cases, the doubling of his sentence had no meaningful relationship to his likelihood of reoffending.

United States v. Blair Cook (7th Cir. August 2020)

Upon remand from the United States Supreme Court, the Seventh Circuit reconsidered the defendant’s conviction under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(3) in light of Rehaif v United States (2019) where the knowledge requirement applied to both elements including possession of a firearm and defendant belonging to a barred category. The Court vacated the defendant’s conviction for unlawful drug user in possession of a firearm and held that the record established that the defendant knew he was a drug user but did not sufficiently establish that the defendant knew his use was illegal.

United States v. Michael Martinez (11th Cir. July 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit upheld a sentencing guideline enhancement for possessing a firearm under § 2K2.1(b)(6)(B) because the evidence showed that the defendant planned on selling the firearm to purchase drugs he intended to distribute.

United States v. Jack Voris (9th Cir. July 2020)

The Ninth Circuit reversed one of the defendant’s assault convictions and corresponding § 924(c) convictions as multiplicitous because the defendant, although charged with shooting at five officers, only shot at them four times. The Court also held that multiple shots fired in quick succession do not necessarily mean the firearm was only used once under 924(c).

United States v. Robert Triggs (7th Cir. July 2020)

The Seventh Circuit reversed the defendant’s conviction under 922(g) based on his prior misdemeanor conviction for family violence battery. Under Rehaif, the Government would have had to prove that the defendant knew that his prior conviction prohibited him from possessing firearms, and the defendant established a reasonable probability that he would not have pleaded guilty had he known the Government’s burden, especially given the circumstances of his prior misdemeanor conviction, which involved a guilty plea without counsel or being thoroughly advised of the collateral consequences.

United States v. Darius Caldwell (11th Cir. June 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s conviction for armed bank robbery and related firearm charges, holding that the a trial court’s admission of unduly suggestive out-of-court identifications is not reversible error where the identification is otherwise reliable, there was sufficient evidence that the bank was federally insured, and new DNA testimony regarding deviations between the witness’s testimony and the FBI’s guidelines on DNA evidence would not likely change the outcome of the trial.

United States v. Surmondrea McGregor (11th Cir. June 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for unlawful possession of unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity fraud, holding that it was not an abuse of discretion for the court to admit evidence of a firearm owned by the defendant. The evidence was relevant to the defendant’s possession of the unauthorized access devices because the firearm was found within close proximity of the access devices and within the same small area, and the probative value outweighed any undue prejudice, especially since the government did not indicate to the jury that the firearm was unlawfully owned.

United States v. Dustin McLellan (11th Cir. May 2020)

Evidence/Expert Testimony – An officer is not testifying as an expert when he testifies that firearms are often involved in drug activity where such lay opinion testimony is based on his professional experiences. Evidence/Rule 403 – Evidence of drug distribution and possession is relevant in unlawful possession of firearm cases where the element of knowledge …

United States v. Dustin McLellan (11th Cir. May 2020) Read More »

Gregory Welch v. United States (11th Cir. May 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s sentence under the Armed Career Criminal Act, holding that his prior Florida convictions for strong-arm robbery and felony battery were “violent felonies” under the ACCA’s elements clause.

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