Thursday, February 02, 2012

922(g)(1) upheld as constitutionally valid

US v. Moore:  Not to be outdone by other circuits who have already published on this issue, the Fourth Circuit holds that § 922(g)(1) passes constitutional muster. This statute prohibits formerly convicted felons from possessing firearms.  Police had arrested Moore for an outstanding warrant, and while searching him incident to the arrest, officers discovered on him a handgun and ammunition.  Moore had prior felony convictions for several offenses. 

Because Moore could not distinguish his circumstances from those of other felons who have been traditionally barred from Second Amendment protections, the Fourth Circuit found the statute constitutional as applied to him. In fact, the Fourth Circuit found that Moore’s criminal history (three prior felony convictions for common law robbery and two prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon on a government official) "clearly demonstrate that is a far from a law-abiding, responsible citizen."

The Fourth Circuit did throw Moore a bone, albeit a small one, when it vacated the order requiring him to pay his court-appointed attorneys’ fees. It was not disputed that Moore was indigent and qualified for a court appointed attorney under the Criminal Justice Act. Additionally, the district court failed to make the necessary findings to support an order of reimbursement, in error. The Fourth Circuit left open the issue of whether it could impose payment of fees at a later date, such as when Moore went on supervised release, i.e., as a condition of release; the Court limited its holding to whether the district court erred in failing to make the statutorily mandated factual finding that "funds were available" for repayment.

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