The government failed to offer evidence that defendant knew he was a convicted felon at the time he possessed firearms and ammunition. Although this was plain error under Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019), defendant has not shown that his substantial rights were affected. Defendant stipulated that, on the date of the offense, he had been convicted of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year and thus could not lawfully possess a firearm or ammunition. Although defendant proffers on appeal his mental illness and the nature of his South Carolina Youthful Offender Act sentence as reasons why knowledge of his prohibited status should not be imputed to him, he has not suggested he would have presented these matters – or any other evidence – as factual bases at trial for contradicting the evidence that he knew he was a felon and could not possess firearms or ammunition.
We affirm the criminal judgment against defendant.
The district court acknowledged the violent and serious nature of defendant’s conduct, disagreed with the notion that he was a minimal or minor participant, and explained how he differed from his co-defendants. Nevertheless, the court stated it had accounted for defendant’s mental health difficulties and learning issues and afforded defendant a downward variance from the guidelines range of 502 to 567 months’ imprisonment based on his history of mental health issues. Accordingly, in sentencing defendant to 480 months, the district court explicitly considered defendant’s mental health issues and found him less deserving of the level of incapacitating punishment suggested by the guidelines as a result.
United States v. Hardiman (Lawyers Weekly No. 003-037-22, 8 pp.) (Per Curiam) 19-4407. Appealed from USDC at Florence, S.C. (Bryan Harwell, J.) Elizabeth Franklin-Best for appellant; Corey Ellis for appellee. 4th Cir. Unpub.