United States v. King

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 11-15-2013
  • Case #: 12-30235
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Court Judge Nguyen for the Court; Circuit Court Judge Thomas; District Court Judge Dearie
  • Full Text Opinion

For charges under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A), unlawfully dealing in firearms, a jury instruction requiring the government to prove that a defendant was not acting as an authorized agent of a federal firearms licensee would be incorrect because it does not comport with the plain language of the statute and would undermine the purpose behind the statute.

Oliver King, a Canadian citizen, appealed his convictions for unlawfully dealing firearms under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A) and making false statements to customs officials under 18 U.S.C. § 1001. King had four arguments: (1) the district court erred because it did not give a proposed jury instruction for King's 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A) charge; (2) there was insufficient evidence to prove that King was "engaged in the business" of firearms dealings; (3) the false statements King made to customs officials were not material; and (4) King's motion for new trial was incorrectly denied. First, the Ninth Circuit ruled that the proposed jury instruction was properly refused because King's theory was not supported by law and did not have evidentiary foundation. More specifically, in terms of the theory's legal support, the panel found that King was a "person" under 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A) and the adoption of King's theory would run contrary to the purpose behind 18 U.S.C. § 922(a)(1)(A). Second, the panel found that King's activities with firearms in the United States, including, but not limited to funding a firearms business in Oregon, were enough to prove that he was "engaged in the business" of firearms. Third, the panel ruled that false statements under 18 U.S.C. § 1001 " . . . need not actually influence [an] agency decision in order to be material; propensity influence is enough." Thus, the panel found King's false statements to be material because two border officers testified that, had they known of King's true purpose for entering the United States, they might not have admitted him. Finally, the panel found that King's motion for new trial was properly denied because " . . . a change in the law does not constitute newly discovered evidence for purposes of [Federal] Rule [of Criminal Procedure] 33." AFFIRMED.

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