Thursday, May 17, 2018

US v. Van McDuffy, No. 16-10520 (5-15-18)(N. Smith w/Bea & Nye).

Bad things can happen unintentionally when committing crimes with guns.  So begins this opinion, in which the 9th upholds a conviction and enhancement for bank robbery when a death occurs.  In 18 U.S.C. ยง 2113(e), Congress required an enhanced punishment when a defendant kills a person during a bank robbery.  The 9th concludes the enhancement applies even when the death is an accidental one.  Here, a customer grabbed the bank robber's gun and it went off.  Critically, the enhancement does not require a separate mens rea: the only required mens rea is the intent necessary to commit the underlying bank robbery.  This is like felony murder. 

In so concluding, the 9th goes through 2113, and the mental state required.  It uses the Supreme Court's decision in Dean as analogous.  In Dean, the enhancement was for a 924(c) offense.  The Court found no need to read a mens rea requirement into the enhancement because the defendant was already guilty of committing the underlying basic crime. The 9th joins the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th in this analysis.

The decision is here:



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