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Criminal Practice – Weapon Possession – Traffic Checkpoint

By: South Carolina Lawyers Weekly staff//September 25, 2023//

Criminal Practice – Weapon Possession – Traffic Checkpoint

By: South Carolina Lawyers Weekly staff//September 25, 2023//

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According to the government’s evidence, (1) the Walterboro Police Department conducted a traffic checkpoint in response to complaints about speeding vehicles near a school, (2) the checkpoint was visible from 500 feet away and marked with a sign, (3) police vehicles were parked at the checkpoint with blue lights activated, (4) every vehicle was stopped, and (5) drivers were only detained long enough for officers to check the driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. Viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the government, the district court did not err in finding that the checkpoint had a valid primary purpose and was reasonable.

We affirm defendant’s convictions of two counts of possession of a firearm after having been previously convicted of a crime punishable by a term of imprisonment exceeding one year, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 922(g)(1), 924(a)(2), and 924(e) and one count of conspiracy to transfer and dispose of firearms and ammunition to felons.

During deliberations, the jury asked whether it is illegal for a convicted felon to be in a vehicle with another individual who was legally carrying a firearm. Defendant claims that the district court should have answered with a simple no, rather than the court’s answer that it depended on the circumstances. The district court answered the question in a manner consistent with case law regarding joint and constructive possession. We therefore find no abuse of discretion.

Defendant asserts error pursuant to Rehaif v. United States, 139 S. Ct. 2191 (2019). However, defendant stipulated that during the relevant time period, he “knew that he had previously been convicted of a felony punishable by a term exceeding one year and was therefore prohibited from possessing a firearm.” Thus, defendant has not established plain error in the district court’s denial of his motion to dismiss and vacate his conviction.

United States v. Fishburne (Lawyers Weekly No. 003-034-23, 7 pp.) (Per Curiam) No. 21-4700. On appeal from USDC at Charleston, S.C. (David Norton, J.) Albert Shahid for appellant; Adair Boroughs and Christopher Schoen for appellee. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (unpublished)

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