Section 924(c)

The Federal Docket

United States v. Perry (5th Cir. May 2022)

The Fifth Circuit reversed a defendant’s conviction for carrying a firearm during a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime under 924(c). The trial court had erroneously instructedhe jury that it could find the defendants guilty of those charges if they used or carried a firearm in relation to either the “crime of violence” charged by their RICO conspiracy count or the drug trafficking crime charged, but RICO is not a “crime of violence” under Fifth Circuit precedent.

United States v. Begay (9th Cir. May 2022), EN BANC

Sitting en banc, the Ninth Circuit held that federal second degree murder (18 USC 1111(a)) is a “crime of violence” under 18 USC 924(c) where, employing the categorical approach, a conviction requires acting “deliberately or recklessly with extreme disregard for human life.” The Ninth Circuit distinguished reckless disregard for human life from mere recklessness but otherwise emphasized that “anything less than intentional conduct does not qualify as a crime of violence.”

United States v. Lance Cannon & Vincent Holton (11th Cir. February 2021)

The Eleventh Circuit affirmed a pair of Hobbs Act robbery convictions, holding that 1) erroneous jury instructions regarding two predicate offenses under 924(c) were harmless where the offenses were inextricably entwined and one was properly instructed as a predicate offense; 2) defendant’s could not show entrapment or outrageous government conduct when the government set up a fake safe house and had an informant suggest to the defendant that they should rob the safe house; and 3) the defendants were not entitled to discovery for selective prosecution based on a showing that a racial group was disproportionately prosecuted unless they could show evidence of prosecution of similarly situated members of another racial group.

United States v. Michael Henry (6th Cir. December 2020)

The Sixth Circuit held that defendants convicted under 924(c) and involved in resentencing proceedings on remand must be sentenced subject to the First Step Act’s amendments to 924(c).

United States v. Justin Taylor (4th Cir. October 2020)

The Fourth Circuit held that attempted Hobbs Act robbery, like conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, does not constitute a “crime of violence” under 924(c) because under the categorical approach an attempt to commit the offense does not invariably require use of force or threat of force.

United States v. Green, et al (11th Cir. August 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit vacated six defendants’ sentences because their RICO conspiracy convictions did not qualify as violent crimes under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). The Court also held that one of the defendant’s sentences was unreasonable.

United States v. DeAndre Smith (11th Cir. July 2020)

The Eleventh Circuit rejected a number of the defendant’s challenges and affirmed his conviction for Hobbs Act robbery, holding among other things that defendant’s robbery of a store was sufficient to “affect” interstate commerce and that no commercial relationship was required between the victim and defendant. The Court also upheld the defendant’s 7 and 25-year sentences under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c), holding that changes to the mandatory minimum did not apply retroactively to cases pending on direct appeal. The Court also held there was no due process violation in the Government’s use of a photo array; no Rule 403 abuse of discretion permitting video evidence; no Eighth Amendment violation when sentences were well below statutory maximums; and sentences were not substantively unreasonable when all relevant facts were considered and weighed.

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. Zavian Munize Jordan (4th Cir. 2020)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions and sentence under 18 U.S.C. § 924(c). While the First Step Act was enacted while the defendant’s appeal was pending, the Court held that its provisions on mandatory minimums did apply retroactively to cases pending on direct appeal.

United States v. Dane Gillis (11th Cir. September 2019)

The Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for enticing a minor under § 2422(b) but reversed his conviction under § 373 for solicitation to commit a crime of violence, holding that kidnapping under § 1201(a) is not a “crime of violence” under the categorical approach applicable to § 373. The Court also held that the defendant’s right to a complete defense was not violated by the trial court’s proper rulings on the inadmissibility of the defense experts’ testimony.

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