United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit
Felon in Possession — sufficiency of the evidence
A felon’s living in his parents’ home where firearms are present is insufficient to support a conviction for felon in possession of a firearm.
“We have explained repeatedly that mere proximity to contraband is not enough to establish a sufficient nexus to prove constructive possession. See, e.g., Morris, 576 F.3d at 666 (‘Proximity to the item, presence on the property where the item is located, or association with a person in actual possession of the item, without more, is not enough to support a finding of constructive possession.’); see also United States v. Hampton, 585 F.3d 1033, 1041 (7th Cir. 2009) (‘[M]ere proximity to the object alone is not enough to prove knowledge of the item.’). Rather, ‘proximity coupled with evidence of some other factor— including connection with [an impermissible item], proof of motive, a gesture implying control, evasive conduct, or a statement indicating involvement in an enterprise is enough to sustain a guilty verdict.’ Morris, 576 F.3d at 668, quoting United States v. Richardson, 161 F.3d 728, 732 (D.C. Cir. 1998). In fact, ‘[e]ven when a defendant continues to have weapons in his home that he legally obtained before his felony convictions, he is not guilty of violating 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1) without a showing that he exercised control over the firearms.’ United States v. Thomas, 321 F.3d 627, 636 (7th Cir. 2003).”
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Randa, J., Hamilton, J.