Allen v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: June 28, 2019
  • Case #: 18-7123
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 734 F. App’x 898 (4th Cir. 2018)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g) and 924 require the government to prove a criminal defendant’s mens rea as to each substantive element of the enumerated statutory offenses, including the defendant’s knowledge of the fact that renders illegal the otherwise constitutionally protected possession of a firearm.

Petitioner inspected and held a rifle while contemplating a purchase, but was not aware at the time that he filled out ATF Form 4473 that he was subject to an order of protection. A jury found that the government failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Petitioner knowingly made a false statement when he completed the form, but found Petitioner guilty for knowingly possessing a firearm while subject to a protective order. Petitioner was convicted and sentenced for unlawfully possessing a firearm. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held, as other federal courts of appeal have similarly held, that the government was only required to prove that Petitioner knowingly possessed a firearm and not knowledge of the protective order. United States v. Langley, 62 F.3d 602 (4th Cir. 1995) (en banc). Petitioner argues that this contravenes decisions by the United States Supreme Court that the government must prove mens reafor each substantive element of 18 U.S.C. §922(g) and that this is the unambiguous statutory language. Furthermore, requiring the government prove mens rea for each substantive element is required to protect every individual’s Second Amendment rights. The United States Supreme Court remanded to the Fourth Circuit in light of Rehaif v. United States, 588 U.S. ___ (2019). VACATED and REMANDED.

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