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Decisions in Criminal Cases, Plus Issue of a Predicate Offense Under Virginia Law

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By FindLaw Staff on June 01, 2010 4:03 PM

In US v. White, No. 09-4114, the Fourth Circuit faced a challenge to the district court's conviction of defendant for being in possession of a firearm after having been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence, claiming that his predicate conviction under Virginia law cannot be considered a "misdemeanor crime of domestic violence" as defined in 18 U.S.C. sectoin 921(a)(33)(A).  In concluding that "physical force" is not an element of assault and battery under the well-established law of Virginia, the court reversed and vacated the sentence as defendant's predicate conviction under Virginia law cannot be considered a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as defined in 18 U.S.C. section 921(a)(33)(A).  

In US v. Ashley, No. 08-4015, the court faced a challenge to a conviction of defendant on federal charges related to his efforts to have a government informant and witness murdered, claiming  insufficient evidence to support a conviction for conspiring to kill an informant in retaliation for providing information to law enforcement officer and constructive amendment of a firearm offense. In affirming the conviction, the court rejected defendant's sufficiency of evidence claim and held that the evidence satisfied constitutional requirements.  The court also rejected defendant's constructive amendment claim and held that a district court does not constructively amend an indictment by giving a Pinkerton instruction when Pinkerton liability has not been charged by the grand jury.   

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