Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Circuit Affirms Conviction and Sentence for Felon in Possession of a Firearm

In United States v. Wiggins, No. 18-1337-cr, __ F. App’x __ (2d Cir. Sept. 30, 2019), the Court summarily affirmed the defendant’s conviction and 78-month prison sentence for possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. First, the Court rejected the defendant’s argument that suppression was required because the district court improperly authorized a second search warrant of his cellphone despite the absence of probable cause. Even if probable cause was lacking, the Court ruled, the police officers executed the warrant in good faith, such that suppression was not required.

Second, the Court upheld evidentiary rulings: (1) admitting certain text messages; and (2) excluding sweatpants that the defendant allegedly wore at the time of his arrest, police recordings of his arrest, and a summary of those recordings.

The text messages tended to show that the defendant had access to a firearm as recently as a “few weeks” before his arrest and that he had used it to threaten someone in connection with a dispute over money. The Circuit held that the messages were therefore properly admitted to show that the defendant had access to a firearm and a motive to possess one when he was arrested.

The Circuit also upheld the district court’s rulings excluding certain defense evidence. The police recordings, for example, would only have corroborated police testimony, and therefore were properly excluded as cumulative. In any event, any error was “harmless” in light of the strong evidence of guilt.

Finally, the Court ruled that the defendant’s prior third-degree New York robbery conviction qualified under controlling precedent as a “crime of violence” under U.S.S.G. § 2K2.1. See United States v. Pereira-Gomez, 930 F.3d 155, 166 (2d Cir. 2018). Accordingly, his sentence was not procedurally unreasonable.

Comments are closed.