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Felon in Possession — sufficiency of the evidence

United States Court of Appeals For the Seventh Circuit

Criminal

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).”

Reversed.

11-1951 U.S. v. Griffin

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Randa, J., Hamilton, J.


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