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Rosemond v. United States

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: March 5, 2014
Case #: 12-895
Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined, and in which Scalia, J., joined in all but footnotes 7 and 8. Alito, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, in which Thomas, J., joined.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/12-895_3d9g.pdf

Criminal Law: A defendant is guilty of aiding and abetting under ยง924(c) when the defendant actively participates in the commission of a crime, and when the defendant has advance knowledge that a gun will be used in a crime.

Petitioner participated in a drug deal and during the crime a gun was fired. At Petitioner’s trial the jury was instructed that Petitioner was “guilty of aiding and abetting, the §924(c) offense, if he (1) ‘knew his cohort used a firearm in the drug trafficking crime’ and (2) ‘knowingly and actively participated in the drug trafficking crime.’” The lower court convicted Petitioner and the Tenth Circuit affirmed. Petitioner appealed to the United States Supreme Court arguing that the jury instructions were improper because they did not accurately state the knowledge requirements necessary to convict a person of aiding and abetting.

The Supreme Court vacated, remanded and held that advance knowledge of gun use in a crime is required for a conviction of aiding and abetting. The jury instruction inaccurately reflected the advance knowledge requirement and did not instruct the jury to determine when the Petitioner obtained knowledge of the firearm. Here, Petitioner alleged that he did not use the gun and he did not know anyone else was planning on using a gun. Thus, the advanced knowledge element was not met and Petitioner cannot be convicted.