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

The Federal Docket

June 1, 2022

Following a jury trial, Robert Earl Tucker Jr. was convicted of several firearms charges in connection with his purchase of several weapons after filling out ATF forms misrepresenting the fact that he had been psychiatrically committed and hospitalized on several occasions in the past. On appeal, the Fifth Circuit reversed his convictions and remanded, finding that the district court had constructively amended his indictment with its jury instructions.

Specifically, the trial court instructed the jury that it could find Tucker guilty under 18 USC 922(g)(4) by showing he possessed a firearm as someone “who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to a mental institution.” This was erroneous because the indictment only alleged that Tucker had been adjudicated as a mental defective and was silent on his commitment. Accordingly, the district court’s instructions allowed the jury to convict Tucker on a theory not alleged in the indictment.

Appeal from the Middle District of Louisiana
Opinion by Willett, joined by Englehardt and Wilson

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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