US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Opinions
United States v. Hicks
Opinion Date: May 8, 2020
Judge: E. Grady Jolly
Areas of Law: Criminal Law
This case was remanded from the Supreme Court in light of Rehaif v. United States, 139 S.Ct. 2191, 2200 (2019), which held that in 18 U.S.C. 922(g) prosecutions the government must prove that the defendant "knew he belonged to the relevant category of persons barred from possessing a firearm." The Fifth Circuit held that the district court did not err when it accepted the factual basis for defendant's guilty plea. The court agreed with the Seventh Circuit that even though due process concerns are implicated when a defendant claims that a Rehaif error rendered his guilty plea unknowing and involuntary, the defendant satisfies plain error review only if he shows that there is a reasonable probability that he would not have pled guilty had he known of Rehaif. In this case, defendant has not argued, much less shown, that he would have gone to trial if he had been informed of the knowledge of felon status requirement. Given that the facts detailed in the PSR provide ample support for the inference that defendant knew of his felon status when he possessed the firearms, the court held that defendant failed to show that the Rehaif error affected his substantial rights. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment.
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