Lora v. United States (June 2023)

The Federal Docket

July 21, 2023

Efrain Lora was convicted of aiding and abetting a violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(j), which penalizes a person who, in the course of violating 18 USC 924(c), causes the death of another person through the use of a firearm, and “the killing is a murder.” Section 924(c) prohibits possessing, brandishing, or using a firearm during a drug trafficking offense or crime of violence, it sets forth various mandatory minimum sentences, and it has a provision stating that “no term of imprisonment imposed on a person under this subsection shall run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment.”

At issue was whether the sentencing court erred in holding that it 924(c) deprived it of discretion to run Lora’s two sentences concurrently for drug trafficking and violating 924(j). In a unanimous opinion, the Supreme Court held that 924(j) and 924(c) set forth different offenses with different sentencing provisions. Since courts otherwise have discretion to run sentences concurrently or consecutively, the sentencing court erred in finding that it was bound by 924(c) in imposing a sentence for a violation of 924(j).

Opinion by Jackson, for a unanimous Court

Click here to read the opinion.

Tom Church - Tom is a trial and appellate lawyer focusing on criminal defense and civil trials. Tom is the author of "The Federal Docket" and is a contributor to Mercer Law Review's Annual Survey in the areas of federal sentencing guidelines and criminal law. Tom graduated with honors from the University of Georgia Law School where he served as a research assistant to the faculty in the areas of constitutional law and civil rights litigation. Read Tom's reviews on AVVO. Follow Tom on Linkedin.

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