Contreras v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Sentencing
  • Date Filed: October 7, 2019
  • Case #: 18-9425
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 754 Fed. Appx. 286 (5th Cir. 2019)
  • Full Text Opinion

Whether the Texas offense of aggravated assault is equivalent to the generic form of that offense and whether 18 U.S.C 924(a) provides for criminal liability in the absence of a showing that the defendant knew of his felony status.

Petitioner pleaded guilty to “illegally possessing a firearm after a felony conviction.” Petitioner never admitted that he knew of his felon status. The prior felony conviction constituted a “crime of violence” under USSG §4B1.2, resulting in an enhanced sentence of 105 months. Petitioner appealed arguing that the prior conviction, the Texas offense of aggravated assault, is not the same as the generic definition and thus not a crime of violence because it “lacks the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force as an element.” The Fifth Circuit affirmed. In his brief to the Supreme Court, Petitioner argues that the courts are divided on the generic definition of aggravated assault and the Court should resolve whether sentencing courts should tolerate minor differences between the statutory offense and the generic definition. Petitioner further argues that the lower courts are divided as to whether the recklessness holding in Voisine v. United States, 136 S.Ct. 2272 (2016) is applicable beyond 18 U.S.C. Section 921(a)(33)(A), the statute which defines “misdemeanor crime of violence.”  The Supreme Court vacated the judgment and remanded to the Fifth Circuit for further consideration in light of their decision in Rehaif v. United States, 588 U.S. ___ (2019), which held that the government is required to prove mens rea under 18 U.S.C. §922(g)(1). VACATED and REMANDED.

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