Musacchio v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Appellate Procedure
  • Date Filed: January 25, 2016
  • Case #: 14-1095
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.
  • Full Text Opinion

A sufficiency challenge should be assessed by the elements of the alleged crime not by an erroneous jury instruction and a defendant cannot raise a §3282(a) statute of limitations bar for the first time on appeal.

Petitioner was found guilty by a jury of two separate counts of conspiracy. Petitioner appealed and challenged the sufficiency of the evidence on the first count and argued for the first time, that his prosecution for the second count was barred by a five year statute of limitations. The Supreme Court agreed with the Fifth Circuit’s decision to reject the sufficiency challenge on the grounds that a reviewing court's determination of sufficiency is based on the legal question of whether there is enough evidence to prove the essential elements of the crime and does not rest on the jury instructions given. The Supreme Court also agreed with the Fifth Circuit's decision regarding the issue of when a statute of limitations bar can be raised. The Supreme Court held that under §3282 (a), a statute of limitations bar must be raised in the district court prior to the issue being raised on appeal.

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