United States v. Grant (6th Cir. October 2021)

The Federal Docket

October 19, 2021

Unlawful Firearm Possession – A defendant’s convictions for unlawful possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and unlawful possession by a domestic violence misdemeanant must be merged as a matter of law where the charges are based on one act of possession.

Joshua Grant pled guilty to two counts of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) by unlawfully possessing a firearm. Both counts alleged that he possessed the same firearm on the same occasion, but one alleged his possession was unlawful because he was a convicted felon, and the other claimed the same because he was a domestic violence misdemeanant. The district court accepted Grant’s plea, entering a judgement on both convictions and imposing concurrent 120-month sentences on each count. Grant did not object to this sentence.

Reviewing the case for plain error, the Sixth Circuit vacated Grant’s sentenced on one of the counts and remanded with instructions that the two counts of conviction be merged. § 922(g) does not permit a court to impose multiple punishments on a defendant who commits only one act of possession but is barred from possession for multiple reasons. The Sixth Circuit had not yet addressed this issue, but the First, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth, Tenth, and Eleventh had all unanimously come to the same decision previously.

Appeal from the Northern District of Ohio
Opinion by McKeague, joined by Sutton and White

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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