An important statute in the prosecution of federal firearms offenses was struck down this week by the Supreme Court in United States v. Davis. The ruling will relieve many defendants who would otherwise face longer sentences for using firearms while committing a “crime of violence” – a phrase the Supreme Court determined was unconstitutionally vague as defined under the statute. Continue reading Supreme Court Strikes Down Criminal Firearms Statute As Unconstitutionally Vague
The protection against double jeopardy is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution. While well enshrined in both the law and public awareness, this protection does not actually extend to a situation in which state and federal authorities seek to prosecute a defendant for the same offense. For decades, the Supreme Court has justified this exception to the Double Jeopardy Clause by invoking the dual sovereignty doctrine. Yesterday, in Gamble v. United States, the Supreme Court doubled down on its previous decisions and upheld the double jeopardy exception that allows federal and state prosecutors to pursue alleged criminals for the same offense. Continue reading Double Jeopardy “Loophole” Withstands Supreme Court Review in Gamble v. United States
The Honeycutt brothers run an operation selling iodine to methamphetamine dealers. One brother makes $269,000 in total profits. The other brother gets paid a weekly salary, but otherwise takes home nothing. They are both charged in a drug conspiracy. The first brother reaches a plea deal with the government, and as a result gets to keep most of the money he made. The second brother loses at trial. At his sentencing, the trial court orders the second brother to forfeit (i.e. give back to the government) an amount equal to the total $269,000 in profits – even though he never saw a dime. Continue reading Supreme Court Hears Argument In Honeycutt
18 U.S.C. 2113 (e) has a long and venerable history, even by the storied standards of the federal criminal code. It was originally enacted in 1934 in response to “an outbreak of bank robberies committed by John Dillinger and others” Carter v. United States of America, 530 U.S. 255, 280 (2000) (Ginsburg, J., dissenting).
In addition to robbing banks, these malefactors would, logically enough, then seek to avoid apprehension. In order to do this, they would frequently pause to take hostages, thus distracting and/or hamstringing pursuing law enforcement. Continue reading Can you receive a term of life imprisonment for forcing someone to accompany you to a different room in their own house?: Justice Scalia and a unanimous Supreme Court say “yes” in Whitfield v. United States of America, (though to be fair, I should note that Mr. Whitfield had just tried to rob a bank).
Eric Breslin, a partner with law firm Duane Morris LLP, has been appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court Criminal Practice Committee. Breslin, a litigator in the firm’s Newark office, will serve on the committee through August 2015.
The Criminal Practice Committee reviews cases and issues referred to it by the state Supreme Court and makes recommendations regarding revisions and amendments to the New Jersey Rules Governing Criminal Practice. The rules dictate practice and procedure in all criminal proceedings in the state’s courts, including the municipal courts.