Friday, November 15, 2013

United States v. Nevils case brief

United States v. Nevils case brief summary
548 F.3d 802 (2008)

Defendant appealed a decision of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, which convicted him of being a felon in possession of firearms and ammunition in violation of 18 U.S.C.S. § 922(g)(1).

Police officers specializing in anti-gang enforcement were investigating unrelated criminal activity at an apartment complex in a high-crime area when they encountered defendant asleep on a couch in one of the apartments. The door of the apartment was off its hinges and leaning against the interior wall. Inside, the officers could see defendant asleep on a couch. Leaning against defendant's body were two firearms--one on his lap and another leaning against his leg. There was a coffee table approximately one foot from the couch. On the table were several items that the police later determined to be baggies full of marijuana and ecstasy, a cell phone, wrist watches, documents, and U.S. currency. The government did not offer any evidence that defendant's access to the apartment was exclusive.


  • In reversing defendant's conviction for being a felon in possession of a firearm, the court held that the government did not produce evidence that would allow a rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was guarding the drugs or otherwise consciously in possession of the guns, as opposed to being passed out at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

The court reversed defendant's conviction and remanded for a judgment of acquittal.

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